From Fiona Roberson:
Three weeks post earthquake and I live in essentially the same city but parts are not the same. Damaged buildings have been demolished and others awaiting demolition decisions. Parts of the rural landscape have modified. Businesses will never reopen. Specific areas are badly impacted and people have lost their homes and will never return.
To me nothing has been more profound than the sight of empty broken homes and portable toilets in streets in areas where sewerage and water systems were broken. Some of our city waterways have untreated sewerage seeping into them. Our coastal beaches have warning of contamination. We have no loss of life and that is a testament to our infrastructure and the standard of building our codes. However buildings have certainly suffered damage and it is still expected that there will be insurance claims for 60% of homes in the regions. The loss of businesses is still to be calculated.
After shocks still continue, approx 1206 since the main quake and yes I have felt many of them as they travel through the ground making a distinctive cracking sound, shake buildings and rattle windows. They are getting less and less and we can expect them for the next 6 months. The aftershocks frazzle the nerves and cause disturbed sleep. It is reported worst for children, people living alone and the elderly. There has been many community services and support for the people with practical assistance and psychological support.
How is LifeLine the 24/7 telephone crisis helpline and email service that I manage part time. We finally got back into our building after 2 weeks and we are just managing to provide a 24/7 service with reduced volunteers who understandably are needing to attend to other issues in their lives. We are expecting our call related to the earthquake to increase over the next months as people will seek trauma counselling rather than psychological first aid.
The community is now moving from immediate response and planning the medium and long term earthquake recovery work for those most affected by the loss of businesses, homes and lifestyle.
This is a reply all to my IFSW colleague’s
Thank you for all the kind thoughts and comments. I appreciate your concern and I feel much supported during this difficult period.
It is now 5 and ½ days out from the big quake and there have been no deaths.
The worst has been the continuing aftershocks reaching over 5 on the Richter scale. This compounds the initial earthquake damage and further destabilizing of at risk buildings and land. As well as the psychological impact on people especially children who just want the shaking to end.
We are told it is a 16,000 year old fault line that was not known about.
It is estimated at least 6 out of 10 homes have been affected – with minor internal to major structural damage and others not so lucky and now have un-inhabitable homes. That is 100,000 homes and we are one of the lucky 60,000 with only breakages.
There are also significant changes to areas of our rural landscape with land cracks and fissures, and property boundary lines redefining themselves within seconds. The cost will be over 2 billion dollars for the region and there is also the cost of restarting the economy. The quake zone has a population of 450,000 (New Zealand’s total population is 4.2 million people).
(As I write this we are hit with another tremor and the windows rattle and the house shakes and the cat looks at me as if to say ………….. why!!!!)
So how is LifeLine the 24/7 telephone crisis helpline and email service that I manage part time with 3 staff and 120 volunteers coping?
We are not able to enter our premises, our phone calls are being forwarded to other LifeLine Centers in NZ me and the staff team are in contact with our volunteers to provide support where needed. We are not sure when we will get the service operational and how many volunteers will be on the roster.
I am in the phase where I am giving out a lot to people not just at LifeLine, but in my private practice, and to friends to help them maintain emotional equilibrium.
In closing with thoughts as to why NZ did not suffer the same after affects or devastation as Haiti (who experienced the same magnitude of a quake!)
We have a well established infra-structure, earthquake building codes, the quake hitting at 4.35am in the morning; and a well established civil defense procedure. Also and very important we did not have the preexisting issue of such acute and extreme poverty.
Where does social work fit in the earthquake recovery work? At present we are in crisis response mode. Today I attended a meeting of NGOs and Community Social Services as to the next phase of response and that is where the social work role becomes more apparent through the agencies with the ongoing work of recovery.
Thanks to everyone who has emailed me about the Earthquake in NZ.
The details is the earthquake centered about 30 kms from where I live in Christchurch and shallow quake as only 10kms deep.
It was a instant earthquake of 7.4 on the Richter Scale as there were no warning and the best way to describe what happened as waking in a split second with the sounds of a train thundering through your ears and continuing for over a minute and then almost continuous aftershocks for 15 minutes. For Ken, my husband, and our cat ,who had not experienced a strong earthquake before it was terrifying and the aftershocks still continuing of up to 5.0 on the Richter Scale also alarming. I was more pragmatic waited awhile then got up to find torches etc and check for house damage.
Christchurch and the surrounding area now declared as a state of emergency which indicates extensive damage to property, road, water and sewerage systems, plus flooding etc.
We are very very lucky with no structural property damage, some minor land subsidence outside in the garden, inside if feels like random acts of violence in parts of the house where items fell off walls and shelves and ended up broken and spread all over the floor. We continue to experience aftershocks and are very thankful electricity has now been restored and our water supply seems to be okay at present. In the meantime weather is fine as we start to clean up the mess.
Again thank you. I really appreciate your thought and support – IFSW is a wonderful community.