18 November 2016

THE Salvation Army in New Zealand is engaged in many avenues of service to people affected by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck to the north of Christchurch, on South Island, in the early hours of Monday morning. Aftershocks continue to cause distress, and seismologists warn that more-significant aftershocks can still be expected.

A team from Blenheim Corps (church), at the top of the South Island, provided food in the small Marlborough townships of Seddon and Ward - serving 130 meals in the first 24 hours. Seddon is where a number of aftershocks have been centred, with many houses no longer habitable. The corps has also provided 200 meals for people in Ward who want to share meals and company and support. This response, and wider pastoral support to people who are worried about future earthquakes, continues.

Ashburton Corps in Canterbury provided meals to 50 people evacuated from a fishing area after the tsunami warning that immediately followed the earthquake. 

On Tuesday The Salvation Army was asked to provide meals at a welfare centre in Woodend, near Christchurch, where evacuees from Kaikoura – one of the worst-hit towns – were being airlifted by helicopter. The centre has now closed, but – in partnership with Continental Catering – while it was open The Salvation Army served 337 meals to a large group of people that included a number of tourists. Direct help to people still living in isolated quake-hit communities was provided with the help of the North Canterbury Four Wheel Drive Club, whose members collected food parcels from The Salvation Army to take to Kaikoura.

Southern Divisional Headquarters has despatched a trailer of supplies to Hanmer Springs, near where the first earthquake struck. It is being described as 'miraculous' that this township has escaped with relatively minor damage. Wellington City Corps has been opened to assist evacuees, and staff have been providing support to others in Wellington who are working on the response, are out of their buildings or are otherwise affected.

As the response continues, The Salvation Army is working with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and other agencies to help where needed. Salvationists in New Zealand are grateful for the support of many organisations and people, and for the continued prayer support from around the world.

From reports by Major Christina Tyson
New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory

Tags: South Pacific and East Asia, Emergencies