06 September 2010

Fear is Intrusive & Illusive After Disasters

While photos will show the demolition or restoration of buildings after the Christchurch earthquake, it will be more difficult to gauge the impact on the individuals who were thrown about, who've experienced more than 90 aftershocks coming on average every 20 minutes, many of whom might have been alone in their homes.

Fear is an intrusive, illusive, devious element of disaster.

Central Christchurch streets are piled with rubble and cordoned off after the quake, which hit at 4.35am Saturday. Strong winds and rain forecast could cause more problems. Photos via NZHerald

Some roads were closed due to liquefaction or flooding and more than 200 residents left their homes and took shelter at three welfare centres set up in the city.

Water supply had resumed for all but 15 to 20 percent and electricity was back on in over 90 percent of Christchurch.

A state of emergency in place in the hardest hit areas.

The United States military in Hawaii offered their assistance after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Canterbury but were turned down because local authorities have the situation under control, Civil Defence director John Hamilton said today.

"I suppose they're probably surprised that we turned down their offers of assistance because in most cases an earthquake of the magnitude that we've experienced would inevitably result in high casualty numbers and the need for humanitarian assistance.

"We're very grateful that the offers were made and fortunately we were able to say 'not required'."

With bad weather forecast, Mr Hamilton said his advice was for those uncertain about their home to go to a welfare centre.

Wind gusts of up to 130kmh were forecast, which would make it difficult for linesman to restore electricity to those who remained without it, he said.

Checks on the structural integrity of buildings continues and the exact state of infrastructure remains unclear while CCTV examinations are underway.

Drinking water and sewerage systems remained an issue for both city and rural communities.

Most government agencies, including police, were sending in extra staff to relieve those on duty and the army remained on standby to help if needed.

Senior government ministers are discussing further taxpayer-funded assistance for the people of Canterbury, including how much to help those without insurance.

Prime Minister John Key has pledged government support to the people of Canterbury, where damage has been estimated at NZ$2 billion by the Earthquake Commission.

Mr Key, who visited Christchurch yesterday, said it looked like a scene out of a movie.

"The roads were just ripped apart. I saw a church completely broken in half," he told TV One's Q and A.

The local authorities and civil defence had done a good job, Mr Key said. SOURCE: NZPA

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