Letter from Hanmer Springs No. 21: Another Earthquake / Saturday

Dearest Friends

As the adrenalin begins to wear off, so a range of other emotions set in. People I’ve spoken to are tired, and heart sore. I’m not sure how much coverage you’re still getting internationally, but the recovery operation continues. No-one has been found alive since Wednesday and although the official death toll is 123 this afternoon, that is a major understatement. Remember the official number means a) there is a body in the mortuary; b) it has been identified using DNA testing; and c) the relatives have been notified. A policeman working with Tony last night at the refugee centre told him that the number would be more than three times what we’re hearing. And they have not yet begun to remove bodies from crushed cars. Tony told me at lunch-time of the first death of someone he knew – a photographic colleague. We fear there will be more.

This description from one of the ambulance drivers gives a real sense of how bad it is. read more here...

The question everyone is asking – is how can a 6.3 magnitude quake produce so much destruction. For those who want to understand something of the geology and the current thinking, see here...
There’s a very good diagram of the fault and aftershocks from the first quake and now this “aftershock”, which seems to be on a different fault.

This map (if you zoom in) will give you a better sense of Christchurch relative to the volcanic peninsula that is though magnified the quake back towards the city. It also shows the suburb names and where we are in Hanmer Springs, relative to the city. Most of the damage this time is in the CBD (about 3 km2) and the eastern suburbs. The epicentre was near Lyttleton and the cliff evacuations have been to the right of Lyttleton at Sumner and Redhills. All the suburbs along the coast on the flat have had major liquefaction – quoted as 500% of what it was last time. more here...

Speaking of evacuations at Sumner, dear friends of ours, San Chee and Manli Chan, had to evacuate their house last night. San Chee has been Tony’s Tai Chi master for many years: more here... .  He also lost the wall of his studio building down-town.

That seems to be the story so many times over. I was speaking to a friend and she tells me of a teaching colleague who is headmistress of a school. The school is no longer usable and so she is juggling parents and children and logistics. She also lost her house. And worst, her husband was in the CTV building. Often when life hits hard it is in one area of our lives. In this event so many people have lost family, and business and home.

Not everything is about people helping one another or stories about caring. These idiots are a very small minority but it does happen. more here...
Thankfully the judge has refused bail and thrown them into jail until the end of March. Tony suggested we bring back stocks set up in public places …  More conventionally, 300 extra policemen from Australia arrived yesterday to be sworn in as Kiwi police. That means no guns ! News reports showed them being cheered as they walked through the airport on landing.

Many times I sit at my pc with tears in my eyes. The good in people’s hearts and the way in which people and Government and businesses respond is what makes me proud to be (almost) a new Kiwi. Some of the things I extracted for you from the last two days:
·         Listed whiteware maker (washing machines, tumble dryers, fridges etc.) Fisher & Paykel Appliances has set up free community laundry service centres in Christchurch for people affected by the earthquake.
·         Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) will suspend repayments for up to 180 days, waive early withdrawals from fixed deposits for emergency cash, offer special $20,000 temporary overdrafts for up to 180 days and wipe out penalty interest fees on late credit card payments. Credit limits have been relaxed.
·         New Zealand Post will resume partial mail services to earthquake-affected areas in Christchurch from Tuesday next week. Some PostShop/Kiwibank stores in the city have already opened. There is free mail redirection for available.
·         As world oil prices increase, local fuel suppliers claim they are holding back a NZ-wide petrol price rise because of the recent Christchurch earthquake. Caltex spokeswoman Sharon Buckland says the decision to delay the rise was to avoid putting a further burden on the city.
·         Telecom said more than 20,000 calls had been made from 260 free Telecom payphones across Christchurch. Two additional payphones were now stationed at Pioneer Stadium and Burnside High School welfare centres. [Calls from public phones were made free in Christchurch after the quake]. Free WiFi spots were also available at Telecom Riccarton Mall, Cafe Zero on Cashmere Rd, and the Westpac Centre in Addington. Telecom said Christchurch customers could have their landline number diverted to another number for free by calling them on 120 and business customers on 125.
·         Army engineers have today established two water production facilities - on the waterfront in Lyttleton and another in New Brighton - to provide water. The plants are reverse osmosis systems that desalinate seawater and produce 2000 litres of fresh water every hour.
·         80 per cent of the city has power. Overhead power lines will have to be built in the eastern suburbs from Bromley to Brighton. Construction started yesterday and should be finished in a week.
·         Air NZ has extended its $50 standby fares for those travelling to and from Christchurch. They are on sale now for travel until March 6. The airline has also added capacity on the routes in and out of the city.
·         Contact Energy is providing free Rockgas LPG to anyone who needs it for a limited time. There is a maximum of two refills per person; Contact Energy has set up a $2 million hardship fund for its Christchurch customers following Tuesday's earthquake. It says the money will be used to help those struggling to pay their power bill as a result of the quake.
·         The council has distributed 780 portaloos around the city, and another 1200 are coming from NZ and the US. 5000 chemical toilets are being sent.
·         The West Coast DHB is urgently requesting the return of any loan equipment that patients no longer need. Items such as braces, crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs are likely to be needed by victims of the Christchurch earthquake and can be returned to any West Coast DHB medical centre, general practice or hospital. It is also asking for the return of weights and wobble boards for rehabilitation and other equipment such as disability shower seats.
·         All elective surgery at Christchurch Hospital has been postponed until at least March 7.
·         The Food and Grocery Council: some of its biggest members rally to donate hundreds of tonnes of water bottles, food and other essentials to earthquake-stricken Christchurch.
·         Coca Cola Amatil, which has distributed 300 pallets of water and is delivering another 72,000 bottles of water a day until further notice
·         Sanitarium which is distributing breakfast products daily to emergency centres via 4-wheel drives and trailers. Locals are using Sanitarium's water bore for fresh water.
·         Goodman Fielder is baking 40,000 loaves a day for emergency centres and open shops. There are plans to send to Christchurch more than 50 pallets of free, fresh pizzas and pies in addition to biscuits and cakes. These donations are likely to be distributed through the Salvation Army.
·         Hubbards is delivering breakfast cereals to emergency groups
·         Mars will donate food, chocolate and pet food. [Speaking of pets, Massey University veterinary school has developed the equivalent of the Urban Search and Rescue teams for pets and is in the city helping free and treat trapped and injured pets]
·         Unilever is contributing tea, soups and cleaning products and has dispatched trucks to give away iced tea and ice-creams
·         Frucor is sending water from Auckland and Kaiapoi
·         Nestle vans which can serve 200 people an hour are expected to arrive in Christchurch today to donate Nestle products
·         Colgate Palmolive has sent thousands of toothbrushes, bacterial soaps, hand wash bottles, hand sanitisers, toothpastes and personal travel packs to emergency centres
·         Heinz Watties has distributed canned products and other goods with the help of the Salvation Army
·         Cerebos Greggs has sent instant coffee from Dunedin
·         SunRice has pledged 4700 packets of rice
·         Australia's National Foods has offered dairy and yoghurt products
·         L'Oreal has offered shampoo and skincare products
·         Johnson and Johnson is working with the Red Cross to send in sutures, infection control and skin staplers.

On the healthcare front, 70% of GP practices were open again by today.  “An Australian army field hospital is set to be turned into a community health centre as authorities work to prevent a medical crisis in Christchurch. The 75-bed centre near Cowles Stadium in Aranui will be like the hospitals set up in warzones such as Afghanistan, a Canterbury District Health Board spokeswoman says. She says it will be self-sufficient and staffed with experienced doctors, nurses and other clinicians from Australia, including six emergency department doctors, 13 nurses, general surgery staff, orthopaedic staff, general trauma, anaesthetists and support staff. They will help stop the outbreaks of diarrhoea and measles thought to be a serious risk in the wake of Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude aftershock, she says.  It will provide free primary care until Sunday night.”

As the immediate need for orthopaedic surgeons begins to diminish, so mental health teams are moving in. A rather amusing side effect of the quake, noticed last time and thus the medical teams are prepared for, is that women go into labour early. Additional midwives have been brought in from around the country. Cardiac teams are also arriving as that is the next health issue from previous experience – more people than normal begin to have cardiac symptoms in the weeks ahead.

“Medical supplies are another challenge in the quake-ravaged city, with pharmacies starting to run out of medication. The warehouse of one Christchurch medicine supplier had not yet reopened since the quake while the other was only able to provide limited services, community pharmacist Jacqui Lawson told New Zealand Doctor magazine.
Of more than 120 pharmacies throughout Christchurch, 80 are now open.”   Val – I know you would have solved the distribution problem instantly !

So dear Friends, my third night here without Tony as he’s still working at the refugee centre in Burnside. They are only allowed three nights in a row for stress reasons and he should be home early Sunday. I know he wants to write about what he’s seen – and of course he had his camera with him for the hours before he went on duty again this afternoon. Even in the 4x4 he was struggling to drive around on the buckled , potholed and creviced roads.

Please keep Christchurch people in your prayers, even as they begin to disappear from your television screens.

Much love

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