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Salvation Army responds after South Island earthquake

4 Sep | 2010

Salvation Army anticipates significant welfare work ahead as crisis unfolds.


Salvation Army responds after South Island earthquake

Salvation Army emergency services in New Zealand have mobilised after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the South Island at 4.35 am on Saturday 4 September. This is believed to be the largest earthquake to strike New Zealand since 1931. Aftershocks are continuing.

Within hours of the disaster, The Salvation Army was feeding around 1000 people in at least two Christchurch locations and standing ready to set up further operations as requested, with residents in some areas advised to prepare for possible evacuation.

The Salvation Army has a formal partnership with the Ministry of Civil Defence and local governments across the country. Its immediate responsibility is to provide catering support in the aftermath of natural disasters, and any other services that Civil Defence requests.

South Island Divisional Commander Major Clive Nicolson says The Salvation Army is ready to do more if called upon. ‘As the day unfolds, we’ll get more of an idea of what else is required,’ he says, adding that there are already fresh reports of flooding coming in.

One hundred people in the Army’s addiction and supportive accommodation centre in Addington, Christchurch, are without power, water and sewerage.

The Salvation Army’s Bramwell Booth centre in Temuka, around 146 km south of Christchurch, is home to men and women with intellectual disabilities. One building at the centre has structural damage following the earthquake and Civil Defence engineers have ordered its evacuation. However, this does not affect residents’ sleeping arrangements and so is manageable.

‘We’re extremely fortunate that this earthquake struck during the night,’ said Commissioner Don Bell, Territorial Commander of the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory. ‘If this had happened a few hours later, with people and cars on the streets and in businesses, we would have been looking at many injuries and likely loss of life. We are also fortunate that the weather in Christchurch is good, which is making work easier for Police and other emergency response workers.

‘No matter how prepared a nation is for an earthquake, there is always great fear, anxiety and disruption of life afterwards. Many people have lost possessions and their housing is not secure. We are praying for these people and for those who are helping them cope, including our own people on the ground.’