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9 September 2010


Shifting from response to recovery

Civil Defence Director, John Hamilton says public services are being restored in Canterbury, with people in the region receiving support from welfare staff and building inspectors despite disruption caused by strong and frequent aftershocks.

Mr Hamilton said the focus is shifting from the response phase to recovery.

“Priorities over the next few days are to provide assistance to people and target and fix infrastructure, meet immediate and longer term housing needs, establish recovery structures and ensure timely, regular communication with affected communities,” he said.

Building inspectors and welfare staff will be knocking on the doors of about 3,600 households in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch today, looking to assess the needs of people and property. A similar exercise has also commenced in Kaiapoi, focusing on the worst affected properties.

More people are approaching their family doctors with stress and anxiety issues, gastroenteritis and repeat prescriptions. There is now a strong focus on psychosocial needs. A psychosocial support strategy is being developed with welfare and health agencies, including information for first responders.

The National Welfare Coordination Group (which meets daily) is identifying additional psychosocial support resources. Distribution of informational flyers produced by Canterbury Mental Health Service and Victim Support has commenced.

The establishment of community recovery centres involving a range of agencies is being considered. Agencies are identifying volunteers that can be rapidly mobilised into to provide support. Two welfare centres in Christchurch City were open overnight, accommodating 350 people. Centres at Kaiapoi, Rolleston and Darfield reopened at 9am today.

The Ministry of Social Development is contacting 18,000 superannuation clients who are living on their own to make sure they are safe.

“The Government has identified extra resources from across the country that can be deployed to Canterbury to support response and recovery,” Mr Hamilton said.

More than eighty building inspectors from other councils have been identified as able to support building assessments. Additional public information management and emergency operation centre staff from other regions are also being dispatched.

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is providing manpower and helping Christchurch Police with administrative support. Yesterday, NZDF flew 124 prisoners out of Christchurch, and they’re continuing with that, moving 186 today.
The Government has established a regional and national recovery framework, with groups meeting today to outline their action plans. Cabinet will provide $5 million to a Joint Mayoral Relief Fund being established by the Christchurch City and Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils.

The Government has announced
  • as a one stop website linking to central and local government agencies and others responding to the earthquake
  • 0800 helpline: 0800 779 997 (has taken about 8000 calls to date)
  • $2.4 million for trauma counselling services
  • businesses with fewer than 20 staff can apply for Earthquake Support Subsidy from today. This aims to help employers with wages payments if the earthquake has disrupted their ability to trade. Payments will occur within 24 hours.

State of emergency
Christchurch City, Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils have each declared a state of local emergency.
  • States of emergency in both Christchurch City and Waimakariri District have been declared until midday Wednesday 15 September 2010.
  • Selwyn District’s state of emergency is due to terminate on Saturday (and this is being reviewed daily).

No national declaration of emergency has been made.

The Police cordon in central Christchurch city is still in place, and is being reduced where possible. Urban Search and Rescue teams completed over 700 tasks yesterday, with 300 calls on the books today, mostly as the result of aftershock damage.

Corrections facilities
Significant damage sustained to Christchurch Men’s and Christchurch Women’s Prisons has led to the decision by Department of Corrections to transfer prisoners to facilities in other regions. The women prisoners have been transferred to Auckland and a large a number of men relocated to Otago. With South Island prisons at peak capacity, there is a requirement to move the remaining male prisoners to North Island facilities. A request has been made to the NZDF for support in the transport of some of the prisoners.

Community Infrastructure Status
All hospitals are fully operational. Non-essential services remain curtailed. Ministry of Health is deploying clinical staff from other regions to manage hospital staff fatigue.

Public health remains the main area of concern, with damage to sewerage and water systems expected to cause issues for at least another week. Assistance is being provided from NZDF and Public Health Units.

The Ministry of Education will publish information on their website regarding schools intending to open (this information is dependant on confirmation by school Board of Trustees once their facilities are deemed safe).

Parents and caregivers should contact the school administration to confirm prior to sending children to school.

By this morning EQC had received nearly 34,000 claims. It is expected there will be upwards of 100,000 claims lodged. EQC is deploying resources to the region to conduct the assessment process.

Housing New Zealand is working closely with the Christchurch City Council to provide a joint response to medium term housing needs.

Building inspections are continuing with a regional request for additional building inspectors. Over 80 inspectors have been offered for deployment so far.

All major roads are open and operational in the Christchurch area apart from those affected in the in the CBD.

There are some closures and diversions in place around the region. The affected roads and bridges are being repaired.

Christchurch International Airport is open and operational. Following the aftershocks the airport terminal buildings have been certified by civil engineers as completely safe and secure. Lyttelton Port is fully operational; however, its operations have been halted regularly due to the aftershocks to reassess the situation. Rail conditions are stable and operational with speed restrictions on trains in the Ashburton/Lyttelton/Rangiora and Rolleston-Cass areas.

Electricity supplies are stable for most but not all of the region. Kaiapoi has particular issues and generators have been installed in the areas. There are still several hundred customers without power. It is expected to restore power by the end of the week. The network remains vulnerable to aftershocks.

Gas deliveries and petroleum supplies are stable and telecommunications are holding up well with less reliance on generators and back-up power. Christchurch and Selwyn District residents on town supply are no longer being required to boil water. A boil water requirement is still in place in the Waimakariri District. Sewage is still an issue in some areas of the affected region.

Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) supply
Both the major consumer goods companies - Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises – are meeting demand across the South island through relocation of goods and providing goods from the North Island where appropriate.

Industrial areas are being inspected for contaminant release. Stopbanks are under constant inspection to target weak spots and take necessary follow-up action.

A rural recovery group for the Canterbury region has been established and a rural recovery coordinator has been appointed today. This group is providing coordination among the groups working in rural areas throughout the region.

Media contact
Public Information Manager
Telephone, National Crisis Management Centre: 04 494 6951

Useful websites:

Assistance available:
  • Any people requiring welfare assistance (e.g. accommodation, non-emergency medical issues, food, government services etc) should telephone 0800 779 997.
  • For emergencies only, please ring 111.
  • Healthline (24 hours): 0800 611 116
  • Earthquake Commission (EQC): 0800 DAMAGE 326 243
  • For Non-English language speakers who need support, the Language Line service which provides interpreters in forty languages is available via the Earthquake Government Helpline (24 hours): 0800 779 997, and Healthline (24 hours): 0800 611 116

For current updates visit the Environment Canterbury website