Yesterday, my parents’ hometown of Christchurch was hit by another earthquake. Although smaller than the September 2010 quake, this one was shallower, and therefore much more devastating. It hit right at lunchtime and resulted in numerous collapsed buildings and extensive loss of life. Rescue efforts are still ongoing, and the news footage is so heartbreaking, I have to steel myself to turn on the TV. It’s just becoming too hard to hear news of something that makes us hope for a miracle, and to sit there, waiting for an update, only to watch that hope dashed. The expressions on the faces of the announcers, and the rescue workers, and the people who are waiting for news…. It’s gut-wrenching.
I have extended family in Christchurch. I was lucky enough to get a call through to my dad before communications went down again, so I could confirm that both he and my grandmother were safe. Helped along by one of my uncles, they managed to clean up enough to make the call that it was safe to stay at Dad’s house overnight. They then spent a harrowing night unable to sleep because of the aftershocks. This morning they weren’t able to get to the water tanker to replenish their supplies, so were having to make do. They sounded exhausted and shell-shocked, and I couldn’t do a thing to help them. I can only imagine the stress they’re under right now. But I’m thankful they’re alive and uninjured.
There are people I’m still worried about but information is slowly filtering on through. Via the Google Person Finder I saw an update posted that two of my other relatives were safe — a huge relief. Hundreds are missing but with no power to recharge mobile phone batteries, all we can do is wait until services are gradually restored, and hope to hear from missing relatives and friends.
This morning I read Vicki Anderson’s eyewitness account called The Day The Earth Roared. She was at work in the CBD when the quake hit and I cried for what she went through, her terror and fear. Vicki, I hope that you’ve been reunited with your daughter and been able to give her that hug!
If you’re worried about missing friends and relatives, then please call 0800 RED CROSS (0800 733 276). People enquiring from outside New Zealand should call +64 4 471 8250.
If you can’t get through to the Red Cross line, then you can check for your friends and family on Google Person Finder: Christchurch. They’re currently tracking around 7,500 records. If you can’t find them listed, then you may want to post details in the “I’m Looking For Someone” listing and check back regularly.
For breaking news and updates, check Christchurch quake: latest info on Stuff.co.nz.
For a list of helplines and other essential information, plus details of how you can donate to help the victims of the earthquake, check What you need to know on Stuff.co.nz.
And finally, if you do wish to donate, beware of scams. It’s a sad fact that you can always rely on the scum of the earth to try to turn tragedy to their own advantage:
“The Ministry of Consumer Affairs is warning reporting scammers are already using the Christchurch earthquake to take advantage of the good will of New Zealanders.
It says emails are being sent out from “James McCoy“, claiming to be from “Donate4CharityNZ“, using a legitimate UK-based charity’s organisation name and website address.
The email encourages people to receive donated funds into their bank account from overseas for a 10 percent cut.
The Ministry says this is a scam, and anyone who receives these emails should report them to them at Scamwatch, delete the emails and do not reply.”
And finally, thank you to everyone around the country and around the world who has supported — and are still supporting — New Zealanders during this terrible tragedy. We appreciate you all.