This post originally appeared on HyperVocal.
About 24 hours ago a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
This is the second major earthquake to affect the city since September. The first quake, a magnitude 7.1, rocked the city, and the damage was widespread. Miraculously, though, there was no loss of life.
I have returned home from Canada twice since the September quake, and the damage the initial quake left was life-changing. People were left without homes, jobs, and livelihoods. Some 2,000 aftershocks also had its effects on people’s emotions and certainty.
The initial 7.1 quake and the 2,000 aftershocks have undoubtedly left the city fragile. The defining difference between the 7.1 in September and the 6.3 yesterday is the depth and velocity at which the ’quake struck. Buildings left structurally sound after September have been brought to the ground.
New Zealand is a picture-perfect country, and Christchurch is no exception. Known as the Garden City, it truly is an amazing place to visit. Today is its darkest day and my thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones. Disasters like this have everlasting effects on a city and its community, not only emotional and financial, but to the spirit of a community.
For those of you who have always wanted to visit New Zealand, I ask of you this: Save your pennies, rally your friends, and in a year from now, take that trip to the great down under.
Christchurch will welcome you as it seeks to revitalize the city and daily life. Those who have passed will not be forgotten, and in their honor, the city will continue to be the city they loved and called home.
Christchurch will need our love and care for years to come. As important as it is to rebuild the city physically, the rebuilding of the society as a whole will take time. I know that my city will be standing strong. Mother Nature hit us hard, but we will hit back with the rejuvenation of strong, proud city.
As Prime Minister John Key said: “We are a country of pioneers. Whether we came by waka, sailboat, or aeroplane, we came with the conviction that we could build a new life in this country. That great pioneering spirit will come to the fore in Christchurch over the coming months and years. Though lost lives will never be replaced, and though your city will never look the same again, you will rebuild your city, you will rebuild your lives, you will overcome.”
The author, Blake Skjellerup, is a competitive short-track speed skater who competed for his beloved New Zealand in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Blake trains and lives in Calgary, Canada, where he will spend the next three years preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
—Phot via AP/Mark Mitchell