Note - refresh this page to ensure you're up to date.   Resource sections   Original article.

Where to from here?

Peter Hyde, March 14, 2011 --

I lived in Tokyo for six years, and so I have many friends who are now going through something comparable to our recent experiences. In the Kanto region around Tokyo itself, where most of them live, the situation is pretty good - power and key transport systems were lost for a while and some buildings were lightly damaged. Further north, where some of them have families, we are looking at something vastly greater in scope. Something almost unbelievable in the amount of suffering already inflicted, and in what may yet have to be borne in the wintry days and weeks to come.

Predictably, a good chunk of worldwide media attention has been captured by the "glam" story of possible nuclear meltdowns. As serious as such incidents may have been in isolation, they are not the real story this week. The narrative which must compel us is the devastation already wrought and the people already dead and dying from the immediate effects of the quake and, particularly, the tsunami.

When you are already injured, suffering from hypothermia, without shelter or sources of drinkable water, warmth or food, and surrounded by tens of thousands of others in the same predicament, it would be hard to understand why so much weight is attached to a (thus-far) small radiation leak in an already-evacuated area. A more balanced perspective is necessary, or people will needlessly suffer or die from misdirected attention and resources.

Back home in Christchurch, on day 21, the Student Volunteer Army has had its first weekend (mostly) off and is slowly winding down, the Farmy Army are back on their farms but will return for a final push next weekend, and Red Cross and other emergency payments are starting to be made to those most in need. And the long debate about how Christchurch should best recover is already in full swing.

I would love to think that the discussion will properly include areas outside the four avenues, away from the now-ruined CBD which has appeared to obsess our Council and its planners for so many decades. Christchurch's future will be best mapped if it is considered as a whole, not merely as a small vital heart surrounded by hinterlands.

Beyond that local debate, I'd like to see some difficult questions asked and answered nationally regarding the scope, quality and direction of the initial emergency response. I'm told that, after September, an internal Civil Defence review concluded that they should have activated the local community CD sector posts then. Yet it apparently didn't happen this time either, in a national emergency! Why not?

I'm told that volunteers nonetheless turned up to one CD post on day one or two, found they didn't have a key and didn't know how to get one, so went home again. What does this say about both the planning and up-and-down communications underlying our community-level emergency response? It was a big disaster, yes -- far bigger than our officials and volunteers have ever had to tackle before. But, if the anecdote is true, is this sort of response the best we can do?

Certainly, the slow official response out east seemed to hinge on issues of communication and information which, in 2011, we should be capable of getting right -- on days three or four if not day one. And if the hard questions are asked and properly answered, perhaps New Zealand's next major disaster will be met more successfully. Not just with people working extremely hard for extremely long hours, and others spontaneously pitching in to help. But also with people in core liaison roles and equipped with the key information and communication tools to make everyone's life a little easier, and every community more viable and robust in a crisis.

In a 21st century first-world democracy, that's not too much to ask.


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Winding down...

Peter Hyde, March 11, 2011 --

Don't quote me, but the acute phase of our recovery from the Feb 22 quake feels like it is over.

Almost everybody has power, though in many streets it's eked out via a generator. Portaloos and in-home alternatives are now becoming much more common where they are needed. Piped water availability is steadily improving and, with chlorination slowly working its way through the system, in a week or so it may be drinkable without first boiling it. Even the roads are in far better shape than they were last week, and a couple more bus services are slowly extending towards the far east. Some schools are open, as are more shops and services, and people who left when there were no utilities at all are now returning.

There are still serious and long-term needs in some of our worst-affected suburbs, and an almost unimaginable amount of demolition, repairing and rebuilding to do, with many people displaced for months or even years while it goes on. Some schools will need to share campuses for at least the rest of the year, some businesses will never reopen, many families have left their home, suburb or city for the last time.

But with the basics of life restored and many uncertainties reduced, the clock starts again. People can take stock and start actually living and planning again, instead of just existing from meal to meal, or racing from one immediate need to the next. Life now feels more normal -- for a particular value of "normal".

A "family-and-friends"-driven relief effort which my original article kicked off is thus slowly winding down, as are many similar pop-up initiatives. More established support and welfare and civic-minded agencies are assuming the load as it becomes more predictable, and requires more formal finance and staying power than a bunch of tired volunteers can muster.

But even as we wind down, I remain mightily impressed and grateful for what those volunteers and supporters -- many of them from the Society for Creative Anachronism -- managed to achieve, with your help. I'm aware of many direct and indirect benefits which could not have happened without the initial spreading of the word, the excellent suggestions and information, the donations of time, goods, services and money, the moral support, even the offers of help which we couldn't directly take up. In the end, perhaps the most significant thing you all did was to give those in the worst-affected areas a voice.

In the end, and above all else, that was what counted.



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Backgrounder - an interview

Peter Hyde, March 8, 2011 --

Below are edited excerpts from an email interview with Thomas Hayden from the San Francisco blog, The Last Word on Nothing (LW):

LW: I guess my first question is, are you all doing all right now, as much as that's possible, or are there still crisis-level needs?

Crisis-level needs are still present, but subsiding. The acute phase will not be gone until virtually everyone has power and adequate water and transport options. The power situation is almost resolved to an "ok" (not good) level - perhaps it will reach "ok" everywhere in a day or so, but after that many people will have only marginal power as autumn bears down on us.

Trucked water distribution is fairly good, but reticulated water is lacking in 20% of the city and the remaining challenges are quite significant.

And the roads are so bad in some eastern suburbs that it's hard to see more than a skeleton bus service happening for a while to come -- and there's not even that in the worst-affected suburbs right now. When your nearest fully functional supermarkets and malls are now 10+km away over bad roads and you don't have transport, it's a real problem.

On the plus side, Civil Defence and the key support agencies like the Red Cross and Salvation Army appear to be better organised and focussed than they were a week ago, and now recognise the nature and scale of the problem they face in those areas. Communication and quality of information is slowly improving. That means that ad-hoc efforts like ours and others I've tried to support will become less necessary as the days roll on.

LW: I'd really like to get further into the "three city" geography you describe. Can you tell me more about the underlying cause of the three cities--is it strictly geography, or are there economic or social factors involved as well?

There are multiple factors. When we consider the nature of the disaster, pure geography/geology meant that the central city and many eastern suburbs got hammered -- some for the second time, after September, only much worse.

And because of the nature of the buildings in the centre -- combined with the power and proximity of the quake, and possibly some weakening effects from September and its aftershocks -- many central buildings failed badly this time around, leading to the need for the huge cordon and urgent rescue efforts.

I think it was more those issues than socio-economic ones, but of course relative wealth is a cushion against the effects of disasters. If you have a friend with a large house or even a second home to escape to, or you have lots of food and other resources you had laid in, or even plenty of gas in the tank, and an extra car if your first one is trapped in the city centre or damaged -- you'll do better than someone without all that.

LW: Failures or oversights in disaster planning/execution?

I believe so. It's apparent that two factors dominated the early official response:

1. Life-saving in the centre: with people buried in rubble and hopefully rescuable, the key agencies were initially in "rescue" mode, seemingly almost exclusively in the first week. Experience from other earthquakes overseas suggested rescues might be possible up to a week or ten days after the quake. But for us, the last survivor was pulled out only 25 hours after the initial shock. This of course we know with 20:20 hindsight - it's understandable that many resources and much media attention would have been piled into that effort for the first week or so.

2. Meeting demand as represented by calls to the freephone helpline. The initial picture the authorities got from this was very misleading. When you are doing what you've been told -- hunkering down for the first 3 days or so, looking after yourself and your family -- you do not place calls to the helpline. You know they will be overwhelmed with people more in need and with situations more urgent than your own.

By day four or five, the people successfully making calls to that and the other various official or ad-hoc support agencies were those who still had working landlines, or power to keep their mobiles charged. Those in the most affected suburbs had neither -- and often hadn't received information about the helpline anyway (no portable radios, or batteries run down). And it doesn't take many calls on hold for 20 minutes on limited mobile charge to give up on the helpline, even if you DID know it existed.

It appears that it wasn't until public calls like mine (and others) started prompting a stronger focus on the eastern suburbs that the real situation apparently started to become clear to those who had the control of resources. By now, two weeks on, they all know they have a major job on their hands out east, and are finally starting to do simple/obvious things, such as redistribute portaloos in line with the most acute need.

My more recent posts have highlighted what I think was needed from day one -- more on-the-ground staff from day one working in those suburbs, acting as a conduit for information in both directions and providing a nucleus for rapidly-growing support efforts. That this did NOT happen in many cases is both a surprise -- we always thought that's what our Civil Defence centres (schools) and people were geared up to do -- and a great disappointment.

The immediate reason for this failure is pretty clear -- every CD and emergency worker and volunteer was initially running full tilt looking at the central city and its acute needs, with no-one left for the communities. But the solution is also clear -- when the extent of the quake was known (they HAD helicopters, and used them!), more personnel should have been bodily dragged in from the rest of NZ and even internationally and stationed in those communities (or used to relieve locals who could then return to their home suburbs and take on those roles).

I do not understand why that did not happen, and regard its lack as a political/planning failure.

LW: If even New Zealand can't handle disaster relief right, can anyone?

Given how well some ad-hoc efforts have done here, like the Farmy Army, Student Volunteer Army, Rangiora Express, and so on, there is hope for anyone -- especially if the above act as models for future situations, and especially if social networks and technology (where it was working) are mobilised as well as we seemed able to do.

But the disjoint between them and the official agencies and the cut-off communities in need was primarily an information failure, heightened by loss of power and comms, but founded in the lack of initial local (and empowered) leadership.

Even where that leadership sprung up spontaneously, as in Redcliffs and some other places, there seemed to be nobody they could talk with to get good information or request good support. They were at the end of the same 20-minute holds (and poor quality/generalised info after the phone was picked up) as everyone else.

Simple example: the government freephone line very quickly became widely regarded as a joke (I don't know about now, haven't tried it recently). By about day six, after asking passing journalists and anyone else who would stop for a moment, we heard of a Council number, NOT a freephone. A day or so later, we spent 25 minutes on hold to that one -- using up about $40 in precious cellphone credit and of course battery -- to tell them about a pair of portaloos (two of four we had in the suburb) which had blown over in strong winds because they had not been properly anchored. Their response: "well, they are blowing down all over the city". Ok, great effort, we feel really on top of our neighbourhood's needs now.

Locally-based CD volunteers in the same leadership role from day three or so, with more direct communication routes and the means to disseminate good, relevant info locally, could have made a wonderful difference -- and kept more people safely in their homes.

(Things seemed so confused that I sometimes wondered if the information and service vacuum -- not to mention the sometimes-spurious forced evacuations -- was a deliberate policy to encourage self-evacuation, so as to relieve demand on services. But I'm not enough of a consipiracy theorist to believe that. Officials were way too busy to be that machiavellian last week.)

I should mention that the media's determined initial fixation on Rescue City of course played a part in how all this unfolded. My wife Vicki is a long-time media person and science commentator (among other things, she runs Her thoughts on the media response are here.

LW: I'm wondering if there's something specific about earthquakes -- the inevitability balanced by infrequency-- that makes it hrad to prepare mentally for them?

I accept it is difficult. We had our clarion call in September and a lot of us ignored it, thinking we'd gotten through the Big One rather well and thus had little need to do more.

In our family, our circumstances were helped by having the relative wealth and leisure to consider how to be a little more robust -- rainwater collection tank (it was full, yay!), extra food, stored emergency drinking water -- EVERYONE can do that! -- face masks laid in during the bird-flu scares, a gas campstove and BBQ, a hand-cranked torch, radio and cellphone charger, lots of spare batteries and a solar charger for some of them, etc.

In spite of that, we FAILED to anchor more than a few of our precious possessions and bookcases, we didn't have extra D-cell batteries for our main radio, our gas and petrol supplies were low and our cellphones were undercharged and low on credit*.

(*) especially after the first few hours, when our scattered family was frantically trying to reassemble itself from across the shattered city. And, I admit, at least one of us had taken a few "disaster" photos or videos which squandered mobile charge. :-(

LW: Was Christchurch able to overcome that inertia -- if indeed you have it as we do here in California? -- between the September earthquake and Feb 22?

Clearly a little, but not enough. The illusion of already having survived the Big One well was the main inertial issue there. We were very self- congratulatory. Hell, even now, two weeks after Feb 22, I still haven't anchored several things well or laid in enough supplies to top up what we've used, so we are still vulnerable to a larger-than-expected aftershock. But then, we've been busy...

LW: And how do you think people there's relationship with earthquakes will be different going forward?

Oh, I think we'll all be more aware and more afraid for a generation or so. And our buiidings WILL be less likely to kill us in future. I have doubts about our utility infrastructure - it's going to be fragile for a long while I think.

Personally, I'm aware of a few things we can do differently to make future experiences less difficult. Simple low-cost things like more spare batteries for cellphones and more effective ways of recharging them (comms is IMPORTANT). And available credit and practiced knowhow to permit the immediate use of mobile broadband, once those networks come online again. They were pretty quick to do so after Feb 22 but we were cautious about using them, partly due to lack of laptop power of course. (Did I mention that comms is IMPORTANT)?

And at least one phone with a calling plan that isn't pre-pay, hence doesn't chew $/minute when you are trying to get help or to help your neighbours.

As the years go by and mobile communications become ever more ubiquitous, the communication problems of 2011 may not recur for too many people, here or in any other (developed) countries. Then again, in a big disaster, you have to hope that the comms and power infrastructure is dispersed and hardened enough to be there when it is needed. Otherwise it's back to community noticeboards at the corner, and paper newsletters if you have the equipment and power to make them.

But mainly, I think there are major lessons to be learned for our Civil Defence and other post-rescue emergency officials. And I hope they are learned sooner rather than later.

LW: Or indeed, with the city? How hopeful are you for a safer, more prepared city emerging from the current disaster?

Fairly hopeful, but it will take time. There are many phases of loss, struggle, inconvenience, annoyance, learning, argument and rebuilding to go through before we get there.


Don't miss the resource sections.

SHOT OF THE WEEK: Fletcher of the Redcliffs Info Point airing his opinion.



Unsung Heroes

Peter Hyde, March 5, 2011 --

There are some signs that the official relief effort is starting to meet the most immediate needs in the worst-affected areas. Our delivery teams report that the supply situation is improving and broadening, and it's heartening to see the establishment of six one-stop service centres located in roughly the right places, instead of far across the city. And although the electricity and water and public information situation is still far from perfect, it has definitely improved on how it was just a few days ago.

Two small examples of the improvements that I witnessed directly are decent drops of bottled water and food parcels (Salvation Army) and emergency kits/baking (Comfort Crusaders) in Redcliffs yesterday, which coincided with a town meeting featuring MP Ruth Dyson and Mark Yetton, an EQC/Council geologist.

The latter is the first semi-official visit our village has seen since day one, finally attempting to answer the many questions and safety concerns that have arisen locally. And it did help a lot, even though it turned out that the new phone number provided to call for followup questions about homes, cordons and cliff inspections etc. had already been discontinued "due to overuse".

But more remains to be done, and to some extent it will continue to depend on the efforts of unsung heroes like Creon, who has been independently delivering water to many areas for well over a week (and also providing excellent updates as to local conditions and needs), or Fletcher, who has staffed the Redcliffs Info Point almost continuously since last Sunday, or Nigel, who is making delivery trips daily around his shift work.

Not to overlook all the volunteers shifting silt and solving problems in the Farmy Army and SVA, making food for the Sallies and many other social and church groups, making supply runs or providing direct support for many other distribution efforts, and the Civil Defence and Red Cross volunteers who have been keeping the ship afloat since the first day, and the Army and Navy folk who have added so much power to their efforts. Then there's the donors and other supporters from elsewhere who are helping to make all this possible. And above all, the Orion and watercare workers who are getting these essential services at least partially restored.

At some point in the coming week, the acute phase will have passed for most people. But a long grind will remain, especially in those areas with fragile utilities, awful road conditions and poor or no public transport. The temptation will be to declare the crisis over and send the extra supporters home for a much-needed and deserved rest.

I hope our officials and politicians don't give in to that temptation. Rotate the staff by all means - there are many New Zealanders and others willing to help. (I've had skilled people writing to me from Perth and further afield asking how they could help if they returned for a week or a month.) But KEEP the support efforts going in the areas where the support will be needed, so the most affected and most vulnerable do not become secondary casualties of the quake, more so than they have already.

Our city has heart and guts aplenty - the city that shines has shone through the dust and the rubble and the tragic losses, the absurd stories about ghost towns, the ridiculous daily coverage of "looters", and some tales even more facile and self-serving.

But let's keep the focus where it's needed, let the first aid be completed, then the healing can commence.

Don't miss the resource sections.

What now, What next?

Peter Hyde, March 3, 2011 --

Pardon the delay in today's update -- many glitches with mobile connectivity in our office today. But we now have water as WELL as power, so have officially rejoined Shower City.

I've received much feedback and many reports and offers of help and information today, from across the world. I know of many people doing delivery runs and they are feeding back info on where the best distribution points can be found. Some of those are major and obvious, a few minor and informal - see below. There's also updates there on what is most needed -- but it's relatively unchanged from the original list.

The media "script" is certainly changing, and it's gratifying to see the expanded interest being shown in the most affected areas from local, national and international media. More please!

Inevitably, some people have chosen to interpret my original piece (below) as either a pointless moan, or a political attack on those people in the Council, Civil Defence, Red Cross, SVA, Farmy Army, NZ Army, church groups and so on, who have already been working so hard for so long. Not so. Saying "this event has been way too big for the tired first-line responders, they need more support and better information, especially out east" is a far cry from bagging them for the huge amount of work they have already done.

But yes, things could be better, and it would be nice to see the following happening in the remaining deeply-affected areas -- on top of the crisis deliveries and relief work that is happening now. My chief concerns at this time are:

That's the best I can offer today, from my limited vantage point. Note that these are meta-concerns - doing them tomorrow won't provide batteries or gas or extra food or hand cleaner to residents of New Brighton, Aranui, Richmond, etc. But these issues need to be sorted, so the support for those suburbs gets more focused from here on in.

Don't miss the resource sections.

Christchurch Quake -- More action needed in Eastern Suburbs right now

Peter Hyde, March 2, 2011 --

My original call to action can now be found here


Things we learned

List of formal and some information distribution points out east:

EARTHQUAKE HELP WANTED: Packing food boxes with the Salvation Army in Hornby. Starting Mon. 7 March people are wanted even for part of the day, to help pack 1000 food boxes. It is work that is beginning now and will probably be ongoing for about a year. The needs are getting greater now the emergency is dimming and helpers return to their 'normal' lives. Report to Captain Mike Allwright at 21 Calgary Place, off Edmonton Rd, off Shands Rd, near Halswell Junction Rd (Check out the link to the map below). Mike is a busy man but call his mobile 027 284 0974 if you need to. Map here

Reports from recent drop-offs

From March 7:

From Aranui School - supplies were almost out, probably because the Council said schools would be open, so people stopped sending stuff. They've fixed this now and supplies should start flowing again. Will take another load out tomorrow.

From March 5:

Aranui Primary School on Breezes Rd a bit north of Pages Road. They will be closed tomorrow (Sunday 6 March) Their greatest needs are: Rice, Pasta, 2 minute noodles. Baby formula, Baby food, Nappies (toddler or walker). Dish liquid, hand cleaners, Disinfectant. Long life milk. Ready meals. Soup mixes, and any canned foods. Disposable Razors

Bowhill Rd centre moved to 20 Marriots Rd

From March 4:

Detailed situation report on many eastern suburbs, and a report from a Civil Defence volunteer.

Redcliffs got lots of supplies today - more than ever before - and the drinking water in particular went (still no power/water in about 1/3 the suburb). Could do with more portaloos or equiv.

Aranui school said that there is a need for pasta, rice, tins of tuna and tomato cans etc. They had loo rolls mountain high. We came in from Northlands side of town and along QE2 drive which was in better condition then we expected.

We took baking and supplies of water containers, gas burner and bottles, masks etc to Aranui primary school and found much order and good distribution to the populace who could not make it to the distribution centre.

The road conditions are bad in Aranui, but the people are still turning up at the Aranui school by the hundreds. Heard the organiser say the army had given them 3000 dust masks, something they have been giving out for days already.

Water points all well supplied with masks and hand sanitiser. Bromley apparently has lost water again. Avonside and Mt. Pleasant are ghost towns. Water should be starting to flow in Mt. Pleasant in the next couple of days as the reservoirs have been fixed and are being filled. Next they will find all the leaks in the pipes. Avonside is just the most damaged of any place I have seen. Shirley has the most liquefaction that I have seen, and the most dusty. I noted was some Nuns delivering near Rowan Ave/Hampshire street. If I see them again I will ask where they are from. If anyone else sees them then ask. They may be willing to handle delivery, if we get supplies to a safe point.

The marae in Springfield Road, Shirley has teams reaching out to the community. It's one of the areas that is not saturated with community centres, unlike the east. So many needy people may be missed in that area.

On a good note I heard from a man whose business is doing no business. And he was in contact with WINZ via phone for only 3 minutes in order to get a grant. Maybe it is worth contacting vodaphone/telecom or 2 degrees to get some free cell phones. And then distribute them to community outreach teams? Although Operation Suburbs has theoretically contacted everyone by now and created a massive database of who needs what, and how badly, for agencies to follow up.

From March 3:

There has been a massive letter drop with official information brochures

Portaloos, we had some delivered today, more tomorrow, and several hundred expected in the weekend. But if traffic remains the same then it will be a struggle to deliver them. And servicing them is a nightmare, so they're sending the chemical ones, where the chemicals will last longer between services. And the first of the chemicals toilets (not portaloos, think camping toilets) are rumoured to have been delivered into suburbs.

New Brighton, Aranui etc still a real mess - lots of people without utilities and a lot of confusion between agencies

Deodorant, Petfood, tiny bottles of soda, babywipes, torches and batteries, candles, longlife milk and alcogel were well received. Little demand for water, nappies, most of the food and only moderate for the butane canisters.

People really need containers for their water. With lids. The bigger the better, really, up to 20 litres, but I've filled up folks' 300 ml bottles. [NB: avoid recycling 2L milk containers. Use anything else in preference].

Road conditions in the worst suburbs are bad - don't go in low-slung vehicles! Maps of roads open/closed are not always accurate. And if you make a trip, allow plenty of time for the return journey - much congestion. Don't clog the roads for a trip in a half-empty car - pool resources and take more in a single trip! Finally, buy supplies as far west as possible, leaving the closer (and already very busy/congested) retailers well-stocked for locals who make it there.

Canned goods were all gratefully received, as was the dried milk powder. Don't worry about giving apples - they have tons! Canned food is good, milk powder also, pasta mixes, batteries, gas/butane cartridges/cannisters. Other non-perishable and/or directly eatable, food, buckets, toiletries, loo paper, etc.

...batteries, sizes AA, C, and D; hand sanitiser; cat and dog food; soap, shampoo and deodarant; baby wipes; powdered or UHT milk; disinfectant and bleach...

Take many copies of Red Cross grant inf and application forms to spread around. And few printouts of Christchurch Recovery Map for a given district, to put on noticeboards

Who has services and who does not?

Power status

Check Orion's main site to find the latest service availability map:

Bus Services

Buses will remain free until Sunday March 27. See Orbiter, Metrostar and Parklands (#60), Number 3 (Hospital to Ferrymead) and Number 5 are eastern services now running, albeit constrained due to road conditions. Most buses have changed schedule as well.

Water Services

Here is a map of piped water supply available as at March 14:

Key Medical and Retail Services

The following medical centres are open:

MP Ruth Dyson has put out this handy general information sheet of key contacts and actions to, etc. (Word doc)

The supermarket in Wainoni is open.

There is now a free Fisher and Paykel laundry service at Cowes Statium, 170 Pages Rd. WAY closer than Kaiapoi! ;-)

Aranui Primary has been offering free laundry facilities. 9-5, 7 days

Getting extra info and help

Contact these support organisations if you need labour or other resources they offer:

So what are we doing here?

...apart from making a public fuss and updating this web page?

There's an additional donation option for PowerShop users which has a multiplier effect: donate $10 to the Sallies via PowerShop and they'll match it. If you haven't looked at PowerShop before check it out here - if you sign up as a result, they'll donate $75 to the Sallies too.


In an excellent piece in the Sunday Star Times, Professor John McClure of Victoria University writes "Intriguingly, one of the strongest predictors of earthquake preparedness is involvement in the community - in clubs, in social organisations, etc. When we strengthen community, a bonus spin-off is greater preparedness."

Vicki Hyde offers some musings on the nature of information flow in a disaster situation.


There were many more wonderful and informative comments and contacts than shown here -- as resources became available, we just had to focus on filling immediate needs instead of posting quotes here.

Bevan writes on March 4:
"Big Joyful cheers welcomed the power returning to my street, but no portaloos or chemical toilets yet. And I agree with some of the others, the Sallies and other church groups have been doing a great job. And to those of you who were able to help, thank you. Most of the people that you have helped will never meet you, but I can tell, as a person living in the eastern suburbs without water and power, they will always be grateful. I know I was when the guys come to the door and give us water or the church around the road drops off baking to brighten the spirit, so I say again, THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!"

Dave writes on March 4:
"Woohoo!!! The army just delivered chemical toilets to all the houses in our street.....That is SUCH a load off.....My mind, that is."

Sharon writes on March 2:
"You are so right. It's hard to convey how murderous you can feel when you've struggled out to finally find a paper  to see "details on these websites...." F*****k. We're lucky we only had four days without water and power and now we've even got the net. I'm now taking shower/water bookings from our local school community. I suggest people do the act local thing; schools are often a good starting point; also bowls clubs, rsa's etc."

Georgie writes on March 2:
"We're in aranui. We have no power, no water and no sewerage. We've been told we could be waiting up to a month for power and the like. We have one portaloo that has been plonked on the corner of pages rd and porchester st thats supposed to be shared with god knows how many people. As far as our st goes, were one of two houses left occupied. Weve seen nothing from the army, the only cops was when we called them on possible looters. I, along with my family and neighbour would like some information other than "we're working as hard as we can to get power restored." who do we have to talk to to be heard? I'd even be happy with a visit from one of these door to door people they're supposed to be sending! We're lucky enough to have a small generator which keeps phones charged."    I've since heard that One News got in touch with Georgie. A start...

Lisa writes on March 2:

"I am in new Brighton, unable to drive due to surgery. No phone, water, power. My Auckland boss thinks I am being dramatic, saying chch looks fine other than CBD."

Sonya writes on March 2:
"I think you summed the situation up very nicely.  We are technically in Refugee City, but one of the better parts (we even have a trickle of water from the outside taps now!).  We both work on the western side of town though, and it is amazing the difference between the two places.  I can only imagine how much worse it is further east than where we are.  I hope that passing your message on will make some of the residents of Shower City more aware of the human side of the situation."

Ruth writes on March 2:
"Just wanted to let you know that there are quite a number of us living within ‘Rescue City’. My husband and I are both blogging regularly about that. We’re very aware of how privileged we are to have power and water (since last Saturday) and to have a home that’s intact."

Karen writes on March 2:

"I am sitting here in comfortable Sydney, worrying about my rellies and friends who are battling really really hard to survive in Eastern CHCH right now.  My cousin Tony is a fireman, he cannot get out of his driveway, he has to bike to get out of his street.   He has a disabled grandchild who is living with him – so he has the weight of the world on his shoulders and has to go to work each day and life at the coal face as a fireman. They still don’t have power, water or sewerage. Sanitation is a huge problem. One lady in their street has a portaloo (left over from the last quake?) but that is reserved for her family – now 17 living in her house as her kids’ houses are uninhabitable... Would the authorities be so slow if it were Merivale? " Update March 3: I see from today's web that the authorities are now focusing on eastern CHCH. My cousin has now got a Portaloo - thanks for all your lobbying.


The following people or groups have been particularly generous in supporting our efforts since the quake. They are far from alone, but cannot go unthanked:

Thanks also to all those people or organisations who have offered moral support, or support we couldn't directly or immediately use. When the chips are down, every offer of help IS appreciated.


Published courtesy of Webcentre Ltd, with many thanks to Vodafone for their initial mobile data donations and to Kyocera and Office Max for supporting our printing costs. And to the guys on the ground from Orion, who were just great.

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