Mum tells of quake turmoil

Katherine Davies with her camper van
Katherine Davies with her camper van

AN EASTBOURNE mum whose daughter witnessed New Zealand’s devastating earthquake says she has been through emotional turmoil.

Janine Davies, who runs the 17 Wilmington Square hotel, had sleepless nights last week when the 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch.

Janine was worried about her 22-year-old daughter Katherine Davies, a former Cavendish School pupil, who was staying in the New Zealand city as part of her round the world trip which she started in September 2010. Luckily, Katherine was uninjured but experienced the terrifying tremor and saw the horrific devastation which followed.

Katherine had a lucky escape. She had been in her campervan, which she had bought in New Zealand to use during her stay, and told her mum she felt as if she was in a car crash because of the way her vehicle moved. Katherine then saw the road cracking and the houses on a nearby hill were destroyed.

Janine said, “She would probably have been safer staying in her campervan but she when she saw the houses on the hill slide she went to find her friends.

“The guy who is travelling with them had come out of the library to find her – it was very brave of him because everyone else was staying under the tables in the library.”

Meanwhile, Janine was in Eastbourne - unaware her daughter was safe and making numerous calls and texts to her daughter’s mobile as she watched the events unfold on the television news during the early hours of Tuesday (February 22).

She said, “It was our son who saw it on the news and he called at 1am to let us know.

“I started to text her at 1.15am and I didn’t get one back from her until 6am. The mobile phone network there was completely blocked and between 6am and 10am it was taking more than an hour for a text to go through.

“Once we got a text back we breathed a sigh of relief.”

“We turned the telly off by Thursday because it was making us feel so helpless. As parents, you want to be there for your kids and watching the news was getting too stressful.”

Katherine remained in Christchurch and stayed on the beach in her campervan under the advice of the police and fire crews in the city.

Janine added, “Everyone was packing up their cars to get out of the city. She said it was like a film set because there was no-one else around.”

Roads out of the city were closed for around four days after the incident and Katherine has spent most of her time living in her campervan.

However, Janine has praised the people of Christchurch for the support they have provided her daughter as Katherine managed to get two nights in a refugee camp following the quake.

Katherine made it out of New Zealand in the early hours of Tuesday (March 1), a week after the disaster. After long flight delays, she arrived in Sydney, Australia, to continue her round the world adventure.

Janine said, “It was very traumatic for Katherine during her last three or four days in New Zealand because as she moved from the beach, going through Christchurch, to get to the airport they were passing people sitting on the side of the street crying. People who were broken up because their loved-ones were still in the buildings which had been destroyed.”

The death toll of New Zealand’s earthquake stands at 148 including four Britons.