IFRC

Red Cross responds after massive earthquakes strike New Zealand

Published: 15 November 2016 4:26 CET

By Corinne Ambler - IFRC

Red Cross teams from all over New Zealand are responding after a series of massive earthquakes struck the centre of the country in the early hours of Monday morning. The main 7.5 magnitude earthquake near Hanmer Springs was 15km deep and felt widely throughout the country. Two people were killed and the town of Kaikoura has been cut off.

About 50 New Zealand Red Cross personnel are on the ground in the two worst hit areas of Blenheim and Kaikoura. The Disaster Welfare and Support Team members are running welfare centres in conjunction with local councils in Ward (Marlborough) and Kaikoura, where a total of 120 people sheltered last night.

Blenheim team spokesperson Tony Fenemor said he’s seen a lot of traumatised people.

“People were saying the night of the quake they were wondering when it was going to end. 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,” he said.

Mr Fenemor said teams are distributing water and tarpaulins, and have gone door to door in the small rural communities of Seddon and Ward, where there was a damaging earthquake just three years ago.

“There is a lot of damage to roads and this is a rural area so getting to a lot of the farms that have been affected has been a bit of a task. At least the weather has improved today and we are out there doing the best we can.”

In Kaikoura, Red Cross volunteers are also running a welfare centre and going door to door, checking on those worst affected. The team used defence force helicopters to bring in emergency generators, satellite communications, an inflatable Air Shelter 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 Christchurch, the Red Cross is supporting a council welfare centre in Woodend and has deployed one of its Disaster Welfare and Support trucks which are capable of providing shelter and food for up to 150 people.

New Zealand Red Cross International and National Disaster Management Officer, Andrew McKie, says New Zealand Red Cross has strong relationships with partners including the Government, defence force and local councils, which has enabled the response to run smoothly.

“We have built these relationships during disasters in the Pacific, and during the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. While we had hoped we wouldn’t have to do this again, we are well prepared and experienced in responding to big quakes,” he said.

So far disaster welfare team volunteers have been deployed from Kapiti-Wellington, Blenheim, Nelson, Christchurch, Tauranga and Dunedin. Teams will be rotated and others are on standby and ready to deploy as needed.

In Wellington the situation is being compounded by heavy rain and flooding and gale force winds, and cordons are still up around much of the central business district. Red Cross teams are on standby to provide welfare services to anyone affected by the floods.

New Zealand Red Cross Secretary General Tony Paine is urging Kiwis to stay up to date with latest information from Civil Defence and to 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 – and for those in Canterbury it will be a very frightening reminder of the last five years,” Mr Paine said. “Listen to the radio or check online for the latest information and, above all, stay safe."

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is supporting New Zealand Red Cross from its Country Cluster Support team in Suva, Fiji, and is ready to deploy technical support if required.

New Zealand Red Cross has launched an earthquake appeal and donations can be made here:  https://www.redcross.org.nz/donate/november-2016-earthquake-appeal/




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