Residents of Christchurch, New Zealand didn’t expect the 6.3 earthquake that violently struck their town on Tuesday, February 22. People were going about their daily routines at work, school and local shops. Then life as they knew it suddenly stopped.
The quake hit with unimaginable ferocity. Buildings were destroyed. Cars were crushed. Lives were lost. Three days later, the death toll is still unknown. This was nothing short of a heartbreaking tragedy.
Still, amidst the destruction, rubble and chaos, there is a ray of hope.
The Phone Call
Anne Vos was at work when the earthquake started. Her instincts served her well as she immediately dove under a sturdy desk. When the shaking was over, Anne was trapped … but alive.
Everything seemed hopeless. The office Anne worked in was destroyed. She was buried beneath rubble with no way out. After assessing her situation, Anne called her son and left him a voicemail. “Hi Rob, it’s Mom. There’s been an earthquake … I’m trapped under a desk. I don’t think I’m going to make it.”
When disaster strikes, the human spirit takes over. Rescue efforts began immediately. No one knew how many people were trapped. So much of the city was in ruins; it was hard to know where to begin. They looked for signs of life everywhere.
As the hours passed, Anne made calls to her family. They told her of the rescue effort, but Anne feared no one could reach her. She said her tearful goodbyes.
Rescue workers would not give up. If there was a chance of saving even one life, they would continue. People labored for hours to help others.
While under the desk, Anne Vos could hear people crying for help nearby. Among them was Anne Bodkin, who was trapped on the third floor of the same building. At first rescue workers thought there was only one woman named Anne. When they realized two victims shared the name, they focused on saving both women.
A full day passed. After spending so many hours trapped under her desk, Anne Vos had given up hope. Her arm was crushed, and she thought no one could reach her. But when a life is in danger, people stop at nothing to help. Complete strangers put their own lives in danger, digging towards survivors any way they could. No one would leave until the survivors were safe.
The Sun Comes Out
A crowd gathered to watch. When Anne Vos was finally found and pulled to safety, the onlookers cheered wildly. It was a communal sigh of relieve, but the work was far from over. Rescuers continued their search for Anne Bodkin.
Graham Bodkin held vigil outside the collapsed building, waiting for news of his wife. He watched eagerly for any sign of hope. It was 27 hours after the earthquake before he learned her fate. They found her amidst the wreckage. She was slowly lowered down a fire ladder and placed into her loving husband’s arms.
As Anne was delivered to safety, the sun peaked out from behind dark clouds. Light beamed over the city, as if to highlight the fact that even in the darkest tragedy, there can be a ray of hope.
It is still unknown how many people lost their lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Our hearts break for the people who lost loved ones and had their lives so violently disrupted. The British Red Cross set up a donations page for victims of this catastrophe. Find information on how to donate here.
We stand in awe of the people who do anything, even put themselves in danger, to help others. Thanks to the rescue workers who give us hope, and thank you for reading the PeopleFinders people search blog.