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February 22 one year on



21 February, 2012

February 22 one year on

Twelve months has passed since the earthquake that devastated Canterbury on February 22, 2011, and the loss of life and destruction are still very raw for many of those affected.

The earthquake and on-going aftershocks led to the largest relief and recovery programme in New Zealand Red Cross history.

Red Cross chief executive John Ware says while the anniversary will be a reminder of loss for many people, for others it’s a celebration of life and survival.

He says the anniversary is also a reminder of the incredible generosity shown to Cantabrians by their fellow New Zealanders and friends from across the world.

“The New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal raised a record amount - $115 million since September 2010 – which has so far directly helped 76,463 individuals and households affected by the earthquake.

“I want to thank all of you who donated so generously. We should never underestimate the power of humanity to unite people for a cause.”

A year may have passed, but the work being done by New Zealand Red Cross in Canterbury has not ended.

Immediately after the earthquake Red Cross helped set up 5 welfare centres and distributed 275,000 litres of water. Volunteers and staff went door to door with other agencies to check on 70,000 homes.

In February alone we registered 50,000 people, and the “0800 Red Cross” phone line took 73,500 calls, many from people wanting to track down missing family members, including 800 from overseas.

When an estimated 60,000 people left Christchurch, Red Cross volunteers were at Wellington and Auckland airports to greet and help people.

Our work now is focused on the long term recovery of Christchurch. A specialised team has been set up to develop and deliver programmes for the next 3-5 years.

“Our Outreach volunteers are visiting people in their homes, especially the lonely and the elderly. We are also working to link vulnerable people with agencies who can help them,” Mr Ware says.

“The 5200 torch radios we have given out so far have been extremely well-received, and we are also teaching people how to be better prepared for any future emergencies.

“Volunteers are also going door to door to offer assistance to the 653 households that remain in the Orange zone.”

Mr Ware says the anniversary is an important day for New Zealand Red Cross staff and volunteers, who were on the frontline of response and relief, and continue to provide support.

“Some of our people are still rebuilding their own lives while putting on a brave face and working hard to support the community, while for others it is now their job to help guide and lead the organisation through its recovery programme.

“I am very proud of them all.”

On Wednesday, Red Cross staff and volunteers will be providing support to families at the 8am service in Latimer Square and around 40 volunteers will also attend the midday public memorial service at Hagley Park.

Volunteers will also be available at the many “River of Flowers” memorial events along the Avon River.

“I want to thank all staff, members and volunteers for their individual contributions over this last year, especially those directly involved in the Christchurch response. I am proud to be the chief executive of this truly humanitarian organisation.”

There is still $14 million of appeal money to be distributed, and anyone wanting to apply for one of the Red Cross grants still open should go to www.redcrosseqgrants.org.nz

Those wanting to volunteer or donate to Red Cross should go to www.redcross.org.nz


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