Christchurch Day Two- Hard work, rain as rescue continues

Posted Feb 22, 2011 by Paul Wallis
New Zealand emergency services and volunteers worked through the night trying to get through to trapped survivors of yesterday's earthquake. Evacuation centres were packed as people left homeless sought shelter.
Good organization, hard work and a series of minor miracles have achieved a lot, but the situation in Christchurch is still pretty grim.
The New Zealand Herald is starting to look like a series of Twitter updates as news from multiple sources comes in.
The official death toll stands at 38, well down from the reported 65 fatalities, but it should be understood that this death toll is based on positively identified victims. Large numbers of injured people have been treated in hospitals and reports of rescued people having to have limbs amputated by their rescuers are also coming in.
Water supplies have been compromised by broken mains and other damage, although the New Zealand authorities are working hard to ensure reliable supplies are available to the community.
Christchurch itself is a shambles. Many buildings in the city centre have been demolished and road surfaces split like toffee. Large amounts of fragmented debris aren't making the job of rescue any easier. Although this material can be moved by hand, it's a slow process.
At this stage there aren't even any estimates of how many buildings are being damaged to the point of being currently unlivable. From the look of the large numbers of people in evacuation centres and the severe damage in the city, it's clearly a very large number of buildings.
New Zealand emergency services and the country as a whole have reacted extremely quickly and efficiently to what is clearly a full-blown disaster. The city of Christchurch is no longer able to provide much in the way of infrastructure and services, and in less than 24 hours massive efforts have been made to restore services as much as possible as quickly as possible.
New Zealanders are being given good information about how they can help. The September earthquake was effectively a dress rehearsal for this one, and the methods used and then are now being put back into practice by the same organizations and community groups.
The New Zealand Herald has an article called Christchurch quake: How You Can Help which lists a series of community-based measures and links for registration for medical professionals and volunteers.
Understandably, the main priority now is to get affected people out of the affected area and into safe accommodation while getting volunteers organized and getting them into the area to clear up the wreckage.
Meanwhile, everything which can be done is being done. Anyone who knows the Kiwis will not be entirely surprised to hear that the Christchurch SPCA has even opened a Pet Emergency Earthquake Fund with a donations hotline.
Christchurch is looking very like Brisbane after the floods, where the entire community pitched in to get the city back up and running, and did a very good job of it very quickly. The crowds of people you see in the photo gallery helping out show one or two people with safety helmets, and the rest without. The ones with the safety helmets are emergency services people, the rest are community volunteers.
So much international aid has been offered the New Zealanders are probably having a hard time in keeping up with the offers. Assistance from Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA is now on its way to New Zealand. The UK team alone has 70 people. Australian PM Julia Gillard has made an open-ended offer of assistance to New Zealand in whatever form required