Thursday, September 09, 2010

All Blacks rally around quake crisis
Thursday Sep 9, 2010

Four Canterbury All Blacks have been enlisted in a campaign to help people traumatised by the earthquake and aftershocks, as authorities step up their efforts to help stressed locals.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn, Kieran Read and Corey Flynn, all in Sydney preparing for New Zealand's Tri-Nations test against Australia on Saturday, have agreed to help out with the campaign, the minister in charge of earthquake recovery, Gerry Brownlee, told journalists today.

An ad will tell traumatised people there is a phone number they can call and people who can help them.

"No one should be in any way reticent in coming forward," Mr Brownlee said. "This has been a very fearful experience for a lot of people and I think all of us have been stopped in our tracks one way or another."

The Government has given $2.5 million for trauma counselling services in the wake of Saturday's 7.1 magnitude quake, and today set up a $7.5 million fund that will provide one-off grants of between $5000 and $10,000 to community-based social services.

New Zealand Civil Defence director John Hamilton said an increasing number of people were approaching their family doctors with stress and anxiety issues, as well as for gastroenteritis and for 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."

Flyers produced by Canterbury Mental Health Service and Victim Support were being distributed.
Authorities are thinking about setting up community recovery centres, involving a range of agencies.

"Two welfare centres in Christchurch City were open overnight, accommodating 350 people. Centres at Kaiapoi, Rolleston and Darfield reopened at 9am today," Mr Hamilton said.

Advice service Youthline said while its local centre was closed Christchurch youth could still access its phone and text services as they were rerouted to offices nationally.

Public services are being restored, with people receiving support from welfare staff and building inspectors despite disruption caused by strong and frequent aftershocks.
The focus was shifting from the response phase to recovery, Mr Hamilton said.

"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."

Building inspectors and welfare staff were knocking on the doors of about 3600 households in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch today, looking to assess the needs of people and property. A similar exercise has also started in Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch, focusing on the worst affected properties.

Kaiapoi was left reeling today with news that more than 80 locals have lost their jobs because New World Kaiapoi supermarket suffered irreparable damage in the 7.1 magnitude earthquake. It will take a year to rebuild.

"We are very distressed that the damage to the supermarket has meant we are unable to re-open and we are doing everything we can to help all of those affected," Foodstuffs chief executive Steve Anderson said.

All staff would receive full pay for two months, access to a specialist business adviser and counsellors, as well as grocery vouchers.

Mr Anderson said he was committed to finding the workers' positions at other supermarkets.
More than 80 building inspectors are helping out with assessments, with the Defence Force is providing manpower where needed and helping police with administrative support.

Hundreds of insurance assessors, some from as far away as America and Europe, have arrived in to deal with claims after the weekend's massive 7.1 magnitude quake, says the Insurance Council.

The Port of Lyttelton was damaged again in yesterday's 5.1 jolt, and the cost of repairs there is estimated at $50 million.

"For us, the port is about months and years of restoration work, there's no quick fixes for a lot of the work," port chief executive Peter Davie said.

Christchurch City, Waimakariri and Selwyn District councils have each declared a state of local emergency, with the former two in place until noon on Wednesday, while Selwyn's is due to finish on Saturday, though this is being reviewed daily.

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

All hospitals are fully operational. Non-essential services remain curtailed. The 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.

Five schools in the quake region reopened today. One of the first tasks for children at Southbridge School, about 45km southwest of Christchurch, was to have an earthquake drill. the vast majority of the other 161 Canterbury schools were expected to open on Monday.

The Ministry of Education will publish information on its website about other schools and their intentions to reopen, with decisions dependent on confirmation by individual boards of trustees once their buildings are deemed safe.

The Earthquake Commission has received nearly 34,000 claims and expecting more than 100,000. It has been criticised as being slow to move and too hard to contact.
All major roads are open and operational in the Christchurch area apart from those affected 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.


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