A wargamer’s report from Earthquake Central

Wayne Stack, a fellow Kapiti Fusilier and wargaming mate from Christchurch, has reported in from Earthquake Central!
We are still having aftershocks here in Christchurch as I write this…but nothing like the big one earlier this morning. Coming from the West Coast of the South Island, which is on a fault line, I had considered myself experienced in earthquakes, but I certainly got a huge fright with this one. We live in a new house which I suppose needed to satisfy building regulations regarding earthquakes, but I thought the house was going to collapse when it struck.
We immediately lost power, phone, etc, and were huddled with our young children under a doorway for half and hour as further shakes came. Being in the dark obviously made it more terrifying.
However, I was pleasantly surpised to find very little damage. A large framed print had moved sideways and punched a hole in a wall, while sadly, the main damage was to my wargames room.
Two glass display cases that held all my painted figures have tipped over and smashed, with the figures spilling out causing considerabe damage…..plenty of glueing, painting and rebasing to be done in the months ahead. The thought had crossed my mind a week or two ago that I should secure the cases to the wall, but never got around to it.
We live near the airport on the west side of the city and got power back on mid morning, meaning we could watch the reports on TV.  It appears to me that the worst damaged areas were in the Central Business District and the east and northern parts of town which are on sandy soil. I have spoken to a number of people who have lost chimneys, had windows smashed and the usual glassware broken. 
I consider that we have got off lightly compared to others but it maybe quite a few days before we get the water mains working again. There have been reports of minor looting in the CBD but this was more likely by drunk opportunists who in the area after a night out.
I’m off now to take some photos of the damage for insurance purposes and to take account of the ‘butchers list’ for my troops….
You can see the devastation in Wayne’s wargames room in the above photo [click the pic to enlarge] , including the two display cases which took a king hit.  One is fully on its front, the other is leaning crazily aginst the table with figure bases spilling out. 
Wayne sent me another message a bit later:
Have only sorted one cabinet so far, which had my ACW and Zulu War stuff in it. Lots of bent bayonets, rifles, pistols and flag staffs … riderless horses, missing shields and smashed wagons … and two knackered cabinets. Yet to salvage my Napoleonic and SYW troops, but not looking that flash. It would be safe to say that my armies won’t be campaigning for a few months until repairs are done. Still having plenty of aftershocks but they will hopefully die off over the next day or two. It feels like you are standing on a boat and swaying.
So, sadly, Wayne’s little lead and plastic guys did not survive too well.  I’ve asked if there is any way we can help him. This is also a salutory lesson to those of us who live in earthquake zones to secure those display cases to walls. Wayne’s last comment:
My suggestion is to go to your local hardware shop and get some bracing brackets this weekend!

6 thoughts on “A wargamer’s report from Earthquake Central

  1. Living in Tokyo means that I have to live constantly with the very real risk of a major earthquake happening at any time of the day or night. So it is sound advice about the bracing brackets for the cabinets.

    But it is sobering to realize that in a really big quake, the bracing brackets are designed not so much to stop furniture from falling over, but to give the residents a few precious extra seconds to escape before they Do end up crashing onto the floor.

  2. Glad you’re OK, and the miniatures should pull through. One Suggestion though: Like any big furniture such as cabinets, dressers, display cases, entertainment centers, and such, you should anchor them to the wall so that they don’t accidentally fall over. I’m sure during an earthquake, the veritcal cases would have shaken a bit, but most likely would have stayed upright. DIY stores usually have the fastener kits which usually includes a strap that is screwed to the wall and to the furniture.

  3. I must be paranoid because everything is securied to walls in my house. Bookshelves, cabinets, china cabinets and especially wargame cabinets.

    1. Brian, what method have you found successful for attaching, that does as little damage as possible to either the wall or the item of furniture?

      One reason I’ve never done it is because we seem to constantly rearrange our furniture, so I’ve been loathe to make holes in the walls. But seeing Wayne’s wargames cabinets toppled over like that gives me the heebie-jeebies now.

  4. How do other New Zealand wargamers feel about rounding up their spare figures/armies for Wayne and other Christchurch gamers who lost miniatures, and help replace their badly bashed figures?

  5. Living in the Linwood/Philipstown area, and hearing unknown articles crashing to the floor, I felt certain that I would be seeing at least half my Napoleonics scattered all over the floor come daylight. They were just stacked in boxes and plastic containers and whatnot quite high up.
    Nope. Didn’t even budge. My only wargames casualty is ‘La Couronne’, minus its mizen mast. It really is minus its mizen, too – can’t find the thing…
    I think your Japan correspondent is right: I have heard that even secured tall and heavy items have escaped their anchorage (a water cylinder in one case burst its strapping, and in another a grandfather clock pulled free of the wall).
    It seems that earthquakes can have effects as unpredictable as any other violent force of nature. Unfortunately we aren’t likely to see any of them doing odd jobs about the place any time soon…

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