Saturday’s word was Richter as in Richter scale and the number was 7.1. The Richter scale is an exponential scale, 2 is ten times bigger than 1 and 3 is ten times bigger than 2. 7.1 is a big number, a scary number. Electricity and water have been cut off, no-one can flush their toilets.
Sunday’s number was 0. No-one was killed and blessings were counted, but the ground still shook. The word for Sunday was ‘liquefaction’. Liquefaction is when solid land is shaken to mush, but the net result is roads and gardens covered with fine thick sand, many feet deep. That’s a lot of digging to be done, and the sand is heavy. Spade bendingly heavy.
Monday’s word was hero. Not the superman type, but the people of Christchurch who, still scared, just got on with it. Shops opened and people helped their neighbours and strangers. Buildings were assessed, some were demolished. Others were passed as safe, but then there’d be an aftershock and they’d have to be reassessed.
Aftershock became a big word on Tuesday. They kept happening. On Wednesday the number was 289. That was the number of aftershocks Christchurch had had. 289 was soon overshadowed by 5.1. the next biggest since 7.1. In some ways 5.1 was a relief. It was different, a biggy during the day. They’d been told to expect a shock nearly as big as the first. Maybe this was it.
Thursday’s 4billion was dollars to clean up. Tomorrow’s word is hope.