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"ASH SHOWER"

I always looked at her with respect. Until this day nothing had ever happened, not even a fart, until the day Ruapehu decided to wake up. It woke up angry, spitting lava, ash, rocks, and smoke 10,000 metres into the air. It was an amazing sight, and the contrast that the blue sky, white snow, with this incredible display of power, it was enough to make anyone stop and be in absolute awe. And of course everything that goes up must come down, and I can tell you that on this day it definitely came down.

It was September of 1995, in the beautiful and quiet town of Mount Maunganui, at more than 300 km away from the volcano, and everything was going fine, the sky was blue, the birds sang, and everyone was going on by their normal days. That all changed when the wind decided to change in the direction of Bay of Plenty, where MT. Maunganui is located. At first there was a strange smell in the air, a smell that reminded me of my holiday in Rotorua. 30 minutes later the smell was really strong, now reminding me more of some kind of forest fire. Then the shower began.

At first it seemed like someone had opened a bag of dry cement up in the sky, and a very thin grey powder started to fall. As the time passed it now seemed more like a entire cement factory had opened over the sky, and in little time everything was completely covered in grey ash. My car that once was white had turned grey, and it was impossible to go to the streets without lifting grey dust. Those that didnít lock themselves inside, used a cloth over their mouth and nose to be able to breath. In other words no one was prepared for this strange event, especially not me who had never ever dreamt of being in this situation.

Fortunately the wind chanced again and the volcano also settled down a bit. But me being the smart guy that I am decided to wash the car with a hose and everything turned into mud. The fine ash had penetrated through every hole and crack, that until this day you can probably still find it there. The ash managed to get into the inside of my car and for months I was still vacuuming, but there always seem to be more. Cars were still lifting the ash from the streets for weeks until we had a real shower that washed the city.

The Eruption did not cause any deaths, but it affected many businesses, especially the ski fields located on the volcano, who suffered great loss in double when the Ruapehu decided to blow its top again a year later.  A study was made about what the population can do if this event happens again, (and some day it will).

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