Hope College student describes New Zealand quake aftermath

Total of four Hope College students in New Zealand; all are OK

New Zealand, earthquake
A large fissure runs along Kaikoura Road about two hours north of Christchurch Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, after a major earthquake struck New Zealand's south Island early Monday. The powerful earthquake struck in a mostly rural area close to the city of Christchurch but appeared to be more strongly felt in the capital, Wellington, more than 200 Km (120 miles) away.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Four Hope College students studying in New Zealand survived the powerful earthquake that shook the nation early this week.

Jonathan Alvaro, a biology student from Hope, told 24 Hour News 8 via Skype that he happened to be in Coromandel Town on New Zealand’s North Island visiting friends early Monday local time. It was perfect timing: He lives on the South Island in Christchurch, which was hit hard by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that left two people dead.

“It was crazy shaking and people running through the streets like mayhem. Nobody was sure what was happening and in the moment you’re not sure how bad it is,” said Alvaro, describing what he had heard from friends and seen on their Snapchat accounts. “They were evacuated immediately during the night and students were forced out of there.”

Alvaro says his dorm is still standing, but he has been told to stay put until the aftershocks subside.

Hope College, Jonathan Alvaro, New Zealand earthquake
Hope College Jonathan Alvaro speaks to 24 Hour News 8 from New Zealand via Skype. (Nov. 15, 2016)

“Towns just even an hour away from here, the water supply has been destroyed,” Alvaro said.

Hope College says some of the Creation Care Study Program students suffered minor cuts and scrapes during the quake, but none of them were seriously injured.

All four Hope students studying in New Zealand remained there Tuesday. Hope College says two students are studying in Christchurch, one in Auckland and one in Kaikoura — where the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management said helicopters were being sent to airlift trapped tourists.

The home of the student in Kaikoura was destroyed and the student is now living in a church.

“I think it’s just a feeling of, ‘Will this end?’ and ‘When will this end?'” Alvaro said. “No one can really be sure because aftershocks even now continue to rock the country.”

New Zealand is still rebuilding from an earthquake that happened five years ago. Now they have double the clean-up.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Kaikoura community which was impacted by the earthquake. To donate, click here.

***CORRECTION: An previous version of this story incorrectly stated who suffered minor injuries. We regret this error, which has since been corrected.