Our quake 10 years on

CHAOS IN THE BOOK AISLES: HB Williams Memorial Library manager Pene Walsh surveys the thousands of books displaced from shelves by the Christmas earthquake that struck Gisborne 10 years ago today. File photo

IT was 10 years ago today.

On December 20, 2007, a Thursday night at 8.55pm with some Christmas shoppers still in town, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck Gisborne.

Three buildings partially collapsed in the CBD, windows shattered, parapets fell through verandas, water tanks and winery vats burst, holes opened in roads, and widespread power outages followed the 31-second-long quake.

Sadly, an elderly woman suffered a fatal heart attack.

There were luckier or more humorous tales. A regular Thursday night diner at a particular restaurant table was absent when the building’s middle brick gable collapsed on to the area where he normally ate.

A young woman was later able to laugh at being in a state of undress in a shop’s changing room as the quake struck.

As people drove to check on friends or family, drove to higher ground in fear of a tsunami, or went rubber-necking, Gisborne’s roads resembled Queen Street at 5pm.

Reporters and photographers at a Christmas function at The Gisborne Herald suddenly found themselves in town working on the story of the year.

Sky Australia television

Those who still had power at home had the unusual experience of watching Gisborne live on Sky Australia television.

Within hours of the earthquake, centred 40 kilometres down and 50km south-east of Gisborne, the inner city was cordoned off and a state of emergency declared.

Engineers, building inspectors and search and rescue staff poured into Gisborne to help.

The exterior of every CBD building was checked.

In a first for a New Zealand civil defence emergency, buildings were allocated a green, yellow or red sticker to indicate if the building was able to open, was awaiting further inspection or was “no-go”.

The stickers were later to become a familiar sight to Kiwis following the Christchurch earthquakes.

Damaged sites included Wyllie Cottage, the Cenotaph, the multi-storey Marina View Apartments, Holy Trinity and St Andrew’s churches, Health 2000, the Bernina Sewing Centre and city homes.

Shops and supermarkets were left with stock lying on the floor, while thousands of books erupted from shelves at H.B. Williams Memorial library.

More than 6000 domestic claims totalled $26 million, while damage to commercial properties pushed costs past $50m.

The 6.3 earthquake was more powerful than other Gisborne quakes in recent memory, a 6.3 recorded in 1993 and 6.0 in 1966.

Another such earthquake striking Gisborne is a case of when, not if.

IT was 10 years ago today.

On December 20, 2007, a Thursday night at 8.55pm with some Christmas shoppers still in town, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck Gisborne.

Three buildings partially collapsed in the CBD, windows shattered, parapets fell through verandas, water tanks and winery vats burst, holes opened in roads, and widespread power outages followed the 31-second-long quake.

Sadly, an elderly woman suffered a fatal heart attack.

There were luckier or more humorous tales. A regular Thursday night diner at a particular restaurant table was absent when the building’s middle brick gable collapsed on to the area where he normally ate.

A young woman was later able to laugh at being in a state of undress in a shop’s changing room as the quake struck.

As people drove to check on friends or family, drove to higher ground in fear of a tsunami, or went rubber-necking, Gisborne’s roads resembled Queen Street at 5pm.

Reporters and photographers at a Christmas function at The Gisborne Herald suddenly found themselves in town working on the story of the year.

Sky Australia television

Those who still had power at home had the unusual experience of watching Gisborne live on Sky Australia television.

Within hours of the earthquake, centred 40 kilometres down and 50km south-east of Gisborne, the inner city was cordoned off and a state of emergency declared.

Engineers, building inspectors and search and rescue staff poured into Gisborne to help.

The exterior of every CBD building was checked.

In a first for a New Zealand civil defence emergency, buildings were allocated a green, yellow or red sticker to indicate if the building was able to open, was awaiting further inspection or was “no-go”.

The stickers were later to become a familiar sight to Kiwis following the Christchurch earthquakes.

Damaged sites included Wyllie Cottage, the Cenotaph, the multi-storey Marina View Apartments, Holy Trinity and St Andrew’s churches, Health 2000, the Bernina Sewing Centre and city homes.

Shops and supermarkets were left with stock lying on the floor, while thousands of books erupted from shelves at H.B. Williams Memorial library.

More than 6000 domestic claims totalled $26 million, while damage to commercial properties pushed costs past $50m.

The 6.3 earthquake was more powerful than other Gisborne quakes in recent memory, a 6.3 recorded in 1993 and 6.0 in 1966.

Another such earthquake striking Gisborne is a case of when, not if.

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