A couple of Sundays ago we woke to a frenzied call from a friend blasting his message down the phone "Tsunami warning, head for the hills!"
Before I was even ready to be awake, there we were, in the car, in a full to overflowing car park somewhere up in the Papamoa Hills, surrounded by mums, dads, bickering kids, pets galore, worried looking nanas and grandads and a few straggly others who looked like they'd come straight from a night on the town. And still the cars kept rolling in.
I wasn't prepared for it, it was night-mareish. Would the sea really engulf my new raised vegie gardens? And what about all the not-quite-precious-enough-to-make-it-inside-immediately stuff that's stored in the outside shed awaiting the next round of sorting to get a final resting place inside the house? There was time enough sitting in the car to envisage all my semi-treasured possessions floating around the house on the force of the wave.
We were kept up to date with the latest developments thanks to Kerre's Cafe on the clearest radio station we could receive. Thankfully she (Kerre Woodham) had put her regular show on the backburner and devoted every minute of today's show to TSUNAMI updates.
Its not the height of the wave that matters its the force behind it, some Civil defence expert droned on to us. A wave with a force of 100km behind it can travel a hefty distance inland with frightening ferocity!
A sense of impending disaster washed over me; the sea is at the end of our street. We're definitely goners if it hits - well we aren't because we are safely in the car miles from home, but the house wouldn't stand a chance. And now dear hubby is nagging me to get out of the car and walk to the top of the hill, which he estimates will take anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes.
Thankfully I buy some time by insisting someone has to stay in the car park to keep an eye out for the nanas and grandads. "They look ever so concerned". Phew, he buys it and we go back to listening intently to the next update.
Estimated time to hit Papamoa beach deferred for a further 40 minutes, more opinion and advice for surviving Tsunami from yet another expert. Two and a half hours later and the experts finally agree: They don't really know what's going to happen, when!
Cars are starting to leave the car park now. The kids next to us have come back from up the hill and taken their totally freaked out cat, in his cage, for a stroll through the bush, to put him at ease, I wonder. The dog in the car next door is barking at full volume again - the cars have disturbed him.
"Can we go home now, pleeaase?" Ten minutes later the car park is now only half full and dear hubby finally decides its probably safe to go. Besides that we'll get better pictorial coverage from the TV. We're not mentioning that this was yet another false alarm. Remember the boy who cried wolf? Experts don't cry wolf, it just didn't turn out to be as serious as they first thought.
Now what did we learn from our little excursion?
We went straight home with firm resolve to check and update our 72 hour survival kits. Dear hubby had thoughtfully thrown ONE kit into the boot of the car prior to our hasty departure. But have we checked them? My what fickle folks we are, as soon as we discovered the RED ALERT was over, we made a promise to check them real soon.
And one day we will, in typical Kiwi style, but there's no rush eh.