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"You couldn't stand up. I was on my knees holding one of the kids and my husband was on the other side of the room."
It was November, 2016 and the Davison family were asleep in their home in North Canterbury on the South Island of New Zealand when they were awoken shortly after midnight by the most terrifying sound."I woke up to hear this enormous noise, it sounded like a freight train was coming and the house started shaking," mum, Hannah told Kidspot.Living at the end of the fault lines with her husband and their children - two-year-old Frankie and four-year-old Alex - Hannah had heard about the importance of being prepared for an earthquake, but nothing could have prepared her for the reality of that night.
"We each grabbed a child"
"We ran into the childrens' room and each grabbed a child," Hannah recalled of the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake."My only job was to protect these children"Hannah's only concern was for the safety of her children."The most terrifying thought was that my only job was to protect these children and that was out of my control and that made me feel really panicked," Hannah said.The Davison family managed to escape, despite the long trip to safety."We kept having to stop along the way to my mother-in-laws' place to move boulders off the road so we could get through," Hannah said.
"That's when the shaking really started. It was like being in a small boat on a very rough ocean - you couldn't stand up. I was on my knees holding one of the kids and my husband was on the other side of the room."The noise was the scariest part of all of it because it was so loud I was yelling at him over the other side of the room and he couldn't hear me. All the furniture was smashing against the wall, you could hear glass breaking, there was so much noise."The chaotic scene went on for almost two-and-a-half minutes and once it was over, Hannah heard another distinct sound that she couldn't quite place at the time."I heard this sort of trickling down the roof," Hannah said.Once they managed to get downstairs with the children safely, Hannah realised what the trickling sound was."It was the chimneys falling down outside the house," she said.Faced with doorways covered with bricks and rubble from the fallen chimneys, they managed to make it outside and into the car.
"That's when the shaking really started. It was like being in a small boat on a very rough ocean - you couldn't stand up. I was on my knees holding one of the kids and my husband was on the other side of the room.
"He was just taking it all in"
Hannah said Alex seemed much more affected by the ordeal than his little sister, Frankie."He was just taking it all in," Hannah said. "When we talked about that night afterwards, he remembered every tiny detail, he just soaked it all up.""Guiding him through that trauma was quite daunting because I was aware of how much I had been affected by that experience."It was actually this event that spurred on Hannah's dream of writing a series of children's books alongside her good friend, Flicka Williams.The first four books the pair have launched together can be found on the My Big Moments website:
- Baby on the Way (to help introduce new siblings)
- The Hospital Trip (to help process a hospital visit)
- Goodbye Comet (to deal with grief and loss)
- Ready for School (for those starting a new school)