Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Earthquake in Christchurch

At 12:51 pm today, a 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch. It was centered
near Lyttelton, and only 3 miles deep. Very bad news. What is worse is
that Lynn is IN Christchurch. Of course I was very worried. It was several
hours until I heard anything, but then our friend Leighton from the
Antarctic Centre called and Lynn was with him. She told me that she
and our friend Brenda were going to meet another friend, Natalie to
go shopping. They were in the lobby of the Hotel So, where they were
staying, when all heck broke loose. They were thrown into the wall and
then they ran out into the street. Destruction was all around. Lynn
said it literally looked like a war zone. What's worse, all of her stuff
is in her hotel room, including her computer and passport and she
probably won't get it back because the Grand Chancellor Hotel, where
we've stayed before is LEANING on the Hotel So! It's the second tallest
building in Christchurch (almost 30 stories) so if it goes down, it's going
to take a lot of buildings with it, including the Hotel So.

After getting their wits about them, Lynn and Brenda, joined by our
friends Jamie, Matt and Kaska (who was barefoot) walked through the
rubble, all the way to the Antarctic Centre/Clothing Distribution Centre (CDC)
(about 6 miles). It proved to be a good meeting point for many other Ice
folks as well and is acting as kind of a command centre for USAP folks
who have recently left the Ice. That's where she found Leighton and
was able to phone me on the Ice.

In the meantime, Christchurch is a mess. This is a much more destructive
quake than the one that struck in September. The entire Central Business
District is closed off, including all of the hotels USAP people stay at and
nobody is allowed there. Dozens of people have been killed and many many
more are missing. Lynn will be staying at the CDC for at least tonight
and probably a few more nights as well.

Facebook has become a huge connector of people during the crisis and
some folks have started a spreadsheet charting the whereabouts of Ice
people who are in Christchurch. So far, everyone is safe and no one from
the programme has been injured.

It's going to be a long few days/weeks/months for Christchurch. Our prayers
and thoughts are with our friends and people we haven't met. Lynn is safe.
Our friends our safe. Not all have been so lucky. Please think of them and
pray for them.

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