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Lyla: Through My Eyes – Natural Disaster Zones

Through my eyes- natural disaster zones, is a wonderful series. It is a way of bringing real life happenings to our understanding, and especially for the younger reader. The story is told by a secondary school student, in her words, and about her life. Many of us remember the huge earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, but Lyla tells us exactly what she saw, felt and did, during those months following the main quake.

For Lyla and her family, earth tremors were a regular occurrence, and a nuisance that you just tried to ignore. On the day of the major quake, Lyla was in town with some friends, when the earth “Shook itself to bits.” This wasn’t an aftershock, that occurred regularly, the shaking earth knocked the girls to the ground, and the earth kept” Bucking and buckling and heaving.” Fifteen seconds was all it took to bring chaos to the city. The girls’ first thoughts were that it was foggy, but that was the dust, and that many buildings had begun the process of falling down.

They had always been taught to head for open spaces away from buildings, after a quake, but Lyla saw a heavily pregnant woman with a toddler, and an injured man, and helped them both. The group made their way home, aware of the devastation around them. Their school was destroyed, and so many houses were just a dusty pile of rubble. Lyla’s mother and father both worked in the support industry, and although the network was jammed, she texted them to say I’m OK.

The pattern of her family’s life would change forever after this day. All the things taken for granted such as running water, electricity, and a safe house were gone. Luckily, although the floor sloped, and all the rooms were strewn with possessions, the house was still sound. So Lyla and her brother began to search for neighbours who were not so lucky. They pulled mattresses onto the floor, and welcomed people inside, who were wandering and dazed. The immediate danger was over, but so many after- shocks were felt the children became expert in gauging the measurement of the shock.

After a time, things began to settle, but it was many days before basic services could be restored. The striking way this story is told, through the eyes of a teenager, brings to life the despair, the loss of life and familiar surrounds, and the loss of friends, whose families just couldn’t stay in that city. Many people were left with fears, quite a normal reaction. The fear of large buildings, and going up in lifts, were some of the things that scarred the people of Christchurch. The day to day monotony of loss and grief is poignantly shown here, and we view this tragedy with a great deal more understanding.


AuthorFleur Beale, edited by Lyn White
PublisherAllen and Unwin Childrens
DistributorAllen and Unwin Childrens
ReleasedMarch 2018