When disaster strikes support is needed

On Tuesday 22 February the New Zealand city of Christchurch was hit by a devastating earthquake, 6.3 on the Richter scale; bringing destruction and death by natural disaster the country hasn’t seen in recent memory.

New Zealand with a population of about 4.7 million, has been reeling since news of the quake. Christchurch one of the main cities, with a population of around 500,000 was getting back to normal after an earthquake on the 4th of September 2010.

The earthquake of 22 February struck as people were on their lunch break -12:51pm, and has caused a large section of the central business district to be shut down by cordons as police and rescue workers from across the globe search for survivors.

It’s fairly much acknowledged that there’s only a remote chance that people will now be pulled live from the rubble, but the search goes on. A search being done by New Zealand’s own police and rescue personnel, and with the support from international agencies from Australia, the USA, Japan, China, the UK and other countries.

New Zealand has stepped in and helped with disaster across the globe for years, and the offers of support New Zealand has received at this time have been overwhelming; something the whole country appreciates and is humbled by.

Christchurch, will take years to recover from this disaster, and all of New Zealand are feeling the loss that the city has had, and the losses it will face for years to come.

It has been great to see support coming from both national and international agencies.  Then there’s the support through local, small organisations and communities which is just as great – bake sales, garage sales, items are being posted on local internet trading site TradeMe. Retailers are donating the proceeds of sales of goods, and

Community groups the length and breadth of the country are holding events, fundraisers or other activities to raise support and help for the people of Christchurch.

Mums and dads are opening their homes to strangers, offering a bed, meals and other support to people displaced by the quake. People have posted on Twitter that they couldn’t bear the continued aftershocks and just wanted out – which has been met with offers of airfares and accommodations.

Businesses unrelated to Christchurch have been offering to take on work, others have been offering office space – all out of the goodness of their heart.

Social agencies are pulling together to help, people in Christchurch are humbled, and thankful for the support they’ve been offered; money, food, clothing, accommodation.

The local student population have again posted on Facebook for volunteers to help with the clean up, with over 15,000 people signing up to help – help such as shovelling silt, helping people move precious belongings; anything that they can help with, they will.

FundraiseOnline a local online fundraising facility has stepped in and helped the NZ Red Cross by setting up a fundraising page to help take some of the strain off the Red Cross website, individuals have been using their own resources to tweet and post on their FaceBook pages with the aim to raise support.

Local telephone providers are offering free phone calls so as to allow those in Christchurch to contact loved ones.

People in the nearby area of Rangiora are assisting with the preparation and distribution of food through Rangiora Express – food is being prepare then sent to where it’s needed by helicopter – this is now facing an uncertain future as funds are desperately needed to keep the helicopters in the air.

Christchurch is a tourist destination, with many tourists from throughout the world caught up in the devastation.

The iconic ChristChurch Cathedral which has been devastated is likely to hold the bodies of at least 20 tourists who were inside at the time of the quake.

The international student population hasn’t been left unscathed with students caught in a collapsed building – some who had only just started classes days before the earthquake. The students are from Japan, China, the Philippines, Korea and other countries.

Through the death and destruction, comes flickers of hope; unity in times of turmoil, when help is needed, hands are held out; Christchurch will need ongoing help from local, national and international agencies over the weeks, months and perhaps years to come.

We as a country are grateful for the support we’ve been receiving from around the globe; and I ask you to please help where and how you can, if you see a collection box, or are able to make a donation through any of your local groups or organisations, please do.

When disaster strikes, no matter where in the world you are, be assured that the connections you have, the friends you have will tap into their resources to help; they will hear you in your time of need and use their networks to help, and where possible New Zealand will be there to help where it can.

We’re a global community and as a community we need to do all we can to offer support. The New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, has launched a global fundraising appeal – the need for help is so great that all avenues are being used to raise awareness and help.

If there’s anything you can do to help, we’d appreciate it, spread the word among your connections. When you need help I’ll be watching to see how I can help.

Image: Courtesy of mattinbgn