I was in New Zealand a little over a year ago. I was sitting in my partner's home in Napier when I felt it—the entire couch was shaking. Then the lazy boy started thrashing about on its own.
I've been reflecting on this moment this week because of the earthquake that happened in Kaikoura, New Zealand early Monday morning.
Natural disasters like this always put things into perspective for me, like with the Louisiana flooding after my visit to New Orleans this summer. But New Zealand hits particularly close to home for me because of my ongoing connection to the country.
Comparing Earthquake Experiences
The New Zealand earthquake I felt in October 2015 had a magnitude (M) of 5.8. At the time, it was the first earthquake I had ever felt—and it was so weird and scary (I tweeted about it here)!
I literally jumped from the couch to position myself in a doorway away from falling objects. The shaking seemed to continue forever even though it was probably only about 2 minutes.
I cannot even imagine the terror people experienced when they felt M 7.8. The videos are horrifying.
The aftershocks late Sunday night into Monday were around as intense as the one I felt. For accurate data, you can go to GeoNet to see New Zealand's earthquake record, including the "severe" shocks .
Aftershocks occurred after the minor earthquake I experienced, too. Only these were much more slight. I could not feel them, but I saw one when it disturbed the loose rubble along the ledge high above Jono and I as we were hiking Cape Kidnappers in Hawke's Bay a day or so later.
When Additional Weather Strikes
When earthquakes hit, there is usually additional weather effects.
After the initial 7.8-er hit this week, a tsunami warning went into effect. These are common after earthquakes. Luckily, the tsunami had less of an impact than anticipated.
There was a tsunami warning for the quake I felt in 2015, too. The difference was, we took a trip to the shore and camped on the beach that night. The tsunami warning was just a precaution. We had no issues at the beach that night.
Overall, the quake I experienced was minor in comparison to the one on Monday.
As if Mother Nature was playing some sort of practical joke this week, New Zealand MetService warned of a storm on the way immediately following the 7.8 quake. Flooding rains the very next day in Wellington prolonged clean-up efforts, added to damage costs, and exaggerated already dangerous situations.
Two people died in Kaikoura from the earthquake. There are landslides still blocking main highways. Livestock has gone missing or died. People's homes are in piles. The New Zealand Prime Minister estimates the damages will cost billions of dollars.
I really love New Zealand, all its people, and all its beautiful land.
Therefore, I am very thankful that nobody I knew was terribly affected. I received a lot of messages from my friends this week about what I knew about what happened and if Jono was alright. He is fine. The only effect on him was some excess water that escaped his aquarium.
My few contacts in the Christchurch/Kairkoura area have also reported they are safe and their homes are in-tact. In general, the people I know down there on the "Pacific Ring of Fire" are fine. But I consider this luck. I could have lost someone.
I think, for many people in unaffected areas, the earthquake was mostly a sore reminder not to take life for granted. Live in the now because, at the end of the day, Mother Nature is our only governor—and she's an unpredictable one.
Interested in helping out in some way in the aftermath of the November 2016 earthquake in New Zealand? Follow the suggestions outlined in this article here.