22 February 2012
The Red Cross response to the New Zealand earthquake in February 2011 was swift, but some communities’ recovery has been hampered by repeated – and sometimes severe – aftershocks and harsh winter weather conditions. The quake, which struck a year ago today, was the country’s worst natural disaster in 80 years, causing 181 fatalities, 2,500 injuries and widespread damage to the city.
Aftershocks in New Zealand have caused considerable damage, particularly to the sewerage infrastructure. Together with adverse winter weather, this led to the closure of schools and extensive power cuts. Due to the aftershocks, long-term recovery work has had to be had be conducted alongside short-term recovery activities and ongoing emergency response operations.
To help people recover from the disaster, the New Zealand Red Cross distributed grants to survivors. It continues to offer bereavement and winter assistance grants, and grants for vulnerable homeowners who need help with the cost of property advice, are relocating from a damaged home or whose household water supply has been affected by the earthquake. As of December 2011, over 67,700 grants – totalling more than £28.5 million – had been disbursed.
Part of the New Zealand Red Cross’ recovery programme involves making sure people are better prepared for future disasters. This includes a household preparedness programme, with 35,000 wind-up and solar-powered torch radios to be given to affected households. Red Cross volunteers are also providing outreach services – assessing vulnerable people’s needs and helping them access the information and support they need.
The British Red Cross New Zealand Earthquake Appeal is now closed. It raised £2.2 million to be sent to New Zealand, providing assistance for over 13,780 beneficiaries.