12 July 2011
When New Zealand was struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 22 February 2011, the New Zealand Red Cross was quickly on the scene, dealing with the devastation. Four months on, it is helping people rebuild their lives.
During the weeks following the quake, the Red Cross:
- sent out 289 emergency response volunteers who put in over 6,800 hours of work
- established six welfare centres, providing 3,000 evacuees with everything from practical and emotional support to first aid
- supplied 1,200 blankets and 400 tarpaulins
- set up seven water stations and gave 3,500 water containers to affected communities
- delivered 2,000 hygiene pamphlets in three Pacific island languages
- set up a centre to handle enquiries about Christchurch residents and missing people, with volunteers taking 73,000 calls in just 27 days
- registered 45,000 evacuees nationwide.
Internationally, appeals have raised over £34.4 million – including an estimated £2 million net from the UK – to support the work of the New Zealand Red Cross. On 2 March 2011 it established an Earthquake Commission, made up of seven community leaders and two Red Cross representatives, to oversee the use of the funds.
The money donated has already helped thousands of individuals and families. To date, the Red Cross has given 51,600 emergency and hardship grants to affected individuals and families, and helped 4,760 children with temporary schools grants. It has also provided hundreds of grants to bereaved and vulnerable people.
Helping people through
One person who the Red Cross has helped is Robyn Scott, who lives in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs with her husband and two children. When the earthquake struck Robyn went outside for safety, only to be confronted by a wave of sewage. She said: “In the blink of an eye it had travelled up the street.”
Her road was in a dreadful condition, but then the Red Cross volunteers arrived on the scene. She remembered: “It was like an army of people came from nowhere to help us. Red Cross has been just marvellous taking the lead to help people.”
Robyn’s family has received an emergency and hardship grant from the Red Cross. Although recovery is slow, she is grateful for the support they have received. Robyn said: “I have cried buckets and I still am, but without this support from these volunteers and the Red Cross we wouldn’t have got through this.” The New Zealand Red Cross continues to use appeal funds to assist people like Robyn.