Main Navigation

Helping families cope after NZ earthquake

As aftershocks continue in the South Island, Red Cross teams are helping families with power, water and a listening ear.

Wednesday November 16, 2016

New Zealand Red Cross team
Red Cross teams are helping out in welfare centres and going door-to-door to check how families are coping after the earthquake. Photos: New Zealand Red Cross

Many residents of Blenheim and Kaikoura are still sleeping in welfare centres, or have been left without power and water, since Monday morning's earthquake.

The 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck 15km northeast of Culverden on New Zealand's South Island. It was followed by over 1,200 aftershocks, causing significant damage in North Canterbury, Marlborough and Wellington. 

More than 50 New Zealand Red Cross people have now joined the relief operation in the area. They are running welfare centres in Ward and Kaikoura, and visiting families in their homes to check how they are.

In Kaikoura, which has been cut off since the earthquake, the team used Defence Force helicopters to bring in emergency generators, satellite communications, an inflatable welfare tent and lighting kit, as well as water bladders and tap stands.  

Water is running out in the town and once the local council has sourced safe drinking water, it will use Red Cross equipment to store and distribute the water.

In Blenheim, Red Cross spokesperson Tony Fenemor has seen a lot of traumatised people.  

"People were saying the night of the quake they were wondering when it was going to end," he reports. "They want to know when the power's coming back on, it'll be a while yet. We're seeing houses without power and water and we're trying to help those people.  

"But the main thing is we are making contact with people and letting them know they're not on their own."

In the midst of coordinating a national relief operation, Red Cross staff had to evacuate their own head office on Molesworth Street in Wellington.  

The eight-storey building next to the Red Cross office sustained structural damage in the earthquake and was declared unsafe. The street has been cordoned off and nearby homes and buildings evacuated.  

Powerful aftershocks continue, together with heavy rain and gale-force winds in some areas.  

Tony Paine, Secretary-General of New Zealand Red Cross, is urging people to stay informed and look out for each other.  

"Remember to check on and support your neighbours and your loved ones. It has been a very rough couple of nights for many Kiwis. Listen to the radio or check online for the latest information - and, above all, stay safe."  

How to help:
New Zealand Red Cross has launched an earthquake appeal. Donate here. (Donations from Australia are not tax deductible.)