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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Community spirit buoys quake-weary

Community spirit buoys quake-weary

Last updated 05:00 17/06/2011
As residents in Christchurch's eastern suburbs struggle to deal with more earthquake damage, community support agencies have hit the ground running.

February's quake prompted the creation of community groups in the worst-hit areas. They were again able to help those growing weary after Monday's large aftershocks crippled services and damaged homes.

The Dallington Community Hub was set up in March to provide water, food, blankets and other emergency supplies.

Christchurch City councillor Glenn Livingstone, who started the hub, said yesterday the portable building at Trade Aid on Gayhurst Rd had been swamped with people since Monday.

The hub is open weekdays, from 10am to 2.30pm.

Many residents were "really struggling", he said.

"They are at a low ebb because the liquefaction has hit them pretty hard. The idea of the hub is that it's there to meet the basic needs. Just being there for people is a source of great comfort."

Volunteer Loretta Jackson, one of many from the unaffected areas of the city offering help, said people were "tired".

On Wednesday, four people broke down in tears in her arms. "They're like rabbits in the headlights," she said.

An Ashburton group will put on a barbecue at the hub tomorrow.

Clean water was trucked in yesterday, with another 100 litres arriving at the weekend.

Silt-shovellers from Rotherham in North Canterbury yesterday got a head start on the Farmy Army, which would help out tomorrow.

"This place restores your faith in humanity," she said.

Retired Dallington residents Denne and Maureen Marshall, who built their Locksley Ave home 15 years ago, have found the hub invaluable. Their neighbours left after the September quake, but they planned to stay.

"I didn't think we'd have to go through this again. We've got a lot of cleaning up to do," Maureen Marshall said.

The Aranui Community Trust has reached out to its neighbourhood, as well as other eastern suburbs.

The trust has three Ministry of Social Development-funded earthquake support co-ordinators on site. Manager Rachael Fonotia said the response had been immediate because of the experience gained in February.

"Our systems are really well set up, and so are our people," she said. "You talk to people about Monday and a lot start to well up. The most regular comment I've heard is `over it'. They're all hanging out for that [land report] to come out. So many people are sitting on edge waiting for that."

Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel said while the community had mobilised "straight away", the response from some central agencies could have been better.

"They did a reasonable job, but they just overlooked a few suburbs, like Bexley and Dallington," she said.

Orion's efforts to restore power in the east had been "tremendous", Dalziel said.

- The Press

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