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Community spirit strong after Canterbury earthquake

Emergency Services coordinator Major Rex Cross receives baked muffins from Christchurch local, Harriet

5 Sep | 2010

Salvation Army emergency services in New Zealand are providing practical support and comfort after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the central South Island on 4 September.

The city of Christchurch and surrounding areas close to the quake’s epicentre are coming to grips with the devastation to buildings and infrastructure, especially water, as well as a huge repair bill, estimated to be as high as two billion NZ dollars.

The Salvation Army is feeding people around 100 people overnight at each of three welfare centres, Linwood and Burnside High Schools and the Addington Race Course. Meals are also being served to a large number of emergency services and welfare support personnel.

During the day, The Salvation Army is feeding people who drop in for food and reassurance but sleep elsewhere. Major Rex Cross, local Salvation Army emergency services coordinator, speaking from Linwood High School, said that if weather conditions worsened then the number of people presenting at the city’s welfare centres is likely to swell. There are fears that poor weather conditions could topple unstable chimneys and other structures and worsen the city’s sewerage problems.

‘But there is a great community spirit here,’ said Major Cross. ‘We are extremely grateful for the cooperation between agencies and the tremendous community response, with food donations coming in from members of the public keen to help.’

Hospitality is a strong feature of life in the South Island, says Divisional Commander Major Clive Nicolson. And while many locals made homeless by the quake are staying with family and friends, The Salvation Army knows that for those without such supports—and for those on low incomes and with more complex social needs—its help will be called upon in the days and weeks to come, particularly for those without insurance cover.

Major Nicolson says, ‘For us it’s going to hit as we move forward, when people come to us and say, “I haven’t got insurance and everything is lost or damaged, can you help me out?” And so we’ll be responding to those needs. Already though, our teams have done a tremendous job.’

To donate to The Salvation Army ‘Canterbury Earthquake Appeal’

  • Freephone: 0800 53 00 00
  • donate online
  • By Post: ‘The Salvation Army, PO Box 27 001 Marion Square, Wellington 6141, New Zealand’

Please specify that your donation is for the 'Canterbury Earthquake Appeal'