How the Christchurch Earthquake Made Us Better

How the Christchurch Earthquake Made Us Better

Date: 22 February 2019
Author: Donny Harris

Thirteen seconds...The disastrous quake of February 2011 lasted for just thirteen seconds, yet it seemed so much longer. It’s strange how time slows down when every decision needs to count, when your instincts kick in.

When the quake hit, I was on the 3rd floor of the CerebralFix offices on Hereford Street. For a few moments I grappled with an urge to jump from the office window. I was fairly certain the building was coming down and figured I might have a better chance leaping out onto the hard ground below, over being crushed by the building above my head. After what seemed like minutes but was in all likelihood a few seconds, I chose the more sensible option of taking shelter under a desk.


If I had to describe the quake in a single word it would be, ‘loud’. There was a deep rumble, just before the ground shook - like a drum-roll of doom. The violent movement that followed was accompanied by the sound of, what could be described, as stampede of animals running across a tin roof. It turns out this sound was our row of buildings crashing against each other. Despite the age of the premises and the devastating surface waves that ravaged the city, our building somehow stood strong. When it had all stopped, shaken and confused, we left that office for the last time.

eq_dust

‘What happens now?’ This was a common question people began to ask a few days later, once they had figured out where they were going to sleep and how to get clean drinking water. Some of the questions running through my anxious mind were:
 

‘Will there be another quake?’

‘Do I still have a job?’


‘Do we still pay our bills?’


‘Will Cerebralfix recover from this?


All of our computers, servers, files and loads of personal items were gone for at least a month or two, while the center of Christchurch was completely cordoned off.

‘How do we even start to get up and running again?’


This is about the time we really came together as a company. Several developers and artists went back to their home cities and resumed work on projects, even delivering games just a few weeks later (our clients were super impressed with that). People called in favours and banded together, which ended up giving us a temporary office out near the airport. People dug deep, worked long hours and really helped each other out.


So CerebralFix got back on its feet despite the chaos, sadness and anxiety caused by the quakes. We even delivered some of our most profitable games (in terms of on going client work and proving our worth) during that crazy time. All this combined, gave me a perspective on life that made me even more resilient, eager and impassioned.


While the quake was indeed a tragic event, I struggle to see how we would be in the great position we are in today had we not gone through what we did.