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Red Cross continues its support for people of Christchurch



20 February 2013

Red Cross continues its support for the people of Christchurch

As the second anniversary of the devastating February earthquake approaches, New Zealand Red Cross is encouraging the people of Christchurch to make their personal happiness and that of their family and friends a priority.

Red Cross is working with an expert in psychological recovery from disaster, Australian clinical psychologist Dr Rob Gordon, who says year three can be the most difficult for some.

“The third year can be particularly tough so pace yourself and focus on things that give your life value and meaning like relationships, family, recreational activities, your health or your career,” Dr Gordon says.

Rob Gordon has 25 years’ experience supporting people affected by more than 30 disasters including the Black Saturday bushfires, the Bali bombings and the recent Australian floods. He says the ongoing aftershocks in Christchurch make the situation there particularly challenging.

“In the third year after a disaster the immediate crisis has passed. International experience shows that in most cases people have confirmation of their personal situations - problems and opportunities – and can begin to heal. But for the people of Christchurch the situation is more challenging. Many are living with uncertainty in regard to their homes, jobs and their community infrastructure and the continuing quakes mean their nerves are constantly on heightened alert.

“To avoid stress-related problems like depression and anxiety, and the effect these can have on relationships, I would advise people to look after themselves. Avoid a single-minded focus on rebuilding to the exclusion of everything else,” he says.

Dr Gordon says people should identify and focus on the things they can control, and try not to fixate on the things they can’t.

Last October, New Zealand Red Cross brought Dr Gordon to New Zealand to meet earthquake survivors and bereaved families. While he was here he held two public forums in Kaiapoi and Brighton, attended by more than 300 people. He returns to Christchurch in March.

Post-traumatic stress normally affects around 10 per cent of those directly involved in a disaster, but with a violent, sudden and destructive event like an earthquake, that number can be closer to 40 per cent. While most recover well emotionally, the process can take at least five years.

New Zealand Red Cross has been actively involved with the people of Christchurch since the September 2010 quake. Its outreach team has made 3141 visits and 5163 door knocks and the recovery team has distributed almost 43,000 torch radios.

The New Zealand public and overseas donors contributed a total of $128m to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal, which is now closed.

The New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Commission has distributed $83m in grants to 96,725 people.

Most of the remaining Appeal funds have been committed to existing grants however $14m remains available for future grants and projects.

Click here to read: RC_Recovery_UpdateFebruary_2013_v9_LR.PDF


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