Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Earthquake a week on

It is a now a week since the devestating earthquake in Christchurch. The death toll stands at 154 and many more are missing. I'm lucky, no one I know personally is missing although I do know people who have lost loved ones.

This disaster will take years to recover from, the damage is immense. All our local schools here are taking in ChCh students and some may be here for a long time as some schools will remain closed for weeks, or even months. There is no accommodation available here and many families have taken in displaced families.

I've been flat out at work so far this week. As some of you may be aware a English as a Second Language School was flattened when the CTV building collapsed. Somewhere in the region of 60 students and teachers are still unaccounted for. I am in charge of the ESOL programme at the local polytech and since Thursday we have been accepting groups of ESOL students from Christchurch. They have been housed at a local high school hostel and fed by volunteers from polytech while arrangements are made for them to leave. They have been taken to Tekapo and we've tried to make their last few days in NZ enjoyable. Two groups fly back to Japan tomorrow and we've more students due later in the week who are likely to be staying with us longer term as it could be weeks before some of the ESOL programmes are able to get up and running again.

It has been unbelieveable to way that people have been rallying to help those in need. We have had friends from CHCH stay for a few days while they get things reorganised and enjoy showers before heading back to no water, sewage or power. Our new bach has been loaned to a family from CHCH who can stay as long as they need and many, many familes in South Canterbury, and New Zealand, are opening their doors to those in need. It is really fantastic to see that in times of adversity like this that the best comes out of people.

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