Christchurch Quake Information Update 23

( 1815hrs, 6 September

Offers of assistance
There have been numerous offers of assistance from businesses and members of the public wanting to help. These have been gratefully received. We now have sufficient resources so please do not contact us with additional offers of assistance.

Making a donation to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal
People wanting to donate goods to those affected by the earthquake are requested to make cash donations instead.
Make a secure online donation now to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal
Make an automatic $20 donation by phoning 0900 33 200.
At any branch of Post Shop Kiwibank, ANZ, National, ASB, BNZ and TSB throughout New Zealand
At any Red Cross service centre or branch nationwide
By sending a cheque (made payable to: New Zealand Red Cross) to: Canterbury Earthquake Appeal, Red Cross House, PO Box 12140, Thorndon, Wellington 6144
100% of all money donated to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal will go to the Appeal

Important numbers to ring:

Earthquake Government Helpline (24 hours): 0800 779 997
Healthline (24 hours): 0800 611 116
Earthquake Commission (EQC): 0800 DAMAGE 326 243
For current updates visit the Environment Canterbury website

An extensive number of aftershocks of between Magnitude 3.2 and 5.4 have occurred and the likelihood of aftershocks of up to around Magnitude 6 will remain for the next week.

Health concerns have shifted to public health issues related to water supply. Sewerage and water supply infrastructure continue to be affected in the low lying eastern areas of Christchurch City and Waimakariri District as well as rural areas in Selwyn District.
Go to the Environment Canterbury website for information about emergency water locations.
For information about storing or treating water visit the Get Thru website.

Three welfare centres in Christchurch City are providing accommodation to approximately 200 people.
Where to go if you need emergency assistance. These centres open 24 hours: Welfare Centres – Canterbury Earthquake (Ministry of Social Development website).
Enquiries for emergency assistance payments continue to be made for food, petrol and accommodation. Steps are being taken to ensure that the elderly and rest homes are captured in support arrangements. Canterbury DHB is making contact with all residential and aged care homes and advises that they are supporting one another.

Building safety and information for employers and employees
Local authorities are prioritising and managing the official inspection of buildings.
The City Council will be classifying all buildings in the cordoned-off area–
Red placards for no entry
Yellow for restricted use
Green for no restrictions on a building’s use
These inspections have resulted in an increasing number of buildings being deemed unsafe, including some that previously appeared safe. Property owners should contact their local authority if they have any questions in relation building safety.
The following health and safety advice for employers / employees has been issued by the Department of Labour.

Weather warnings
Heavy rain has fallen in the Canterbury plains and high country since last night and is expected to continue until 2100 hrs tonight. Strong wind that affected the region since Sunday night is forecast to ease.

Environment Canterbury is monitoring river flow in the Waimakariri River due to current weather conditions and predicted rainfall levels in the Southern Alps. Once rain clears, which is currently expected to be Wednesday or Thursday, several days of fine conditions with light winds are expected.

Schools closed for two days
All schools and preschools in Christchurch City, Selwyn District and the Kaiapoi area of Waimakariri District will remain closed until Wednesday morning at 9am. Decisions to reopen schools and preschools will be reviewed on Tuesday.

As schools will be closed it is possible that some businesses will see increased foot traffic from school students and their families. This increases the need for property owners to ensure that their businesses are safe as a result of damage caused by the earthquake. It is the responsibility of property owners, in the first instance, in any area affected by the earthquake to ensure that their property is safe for staff and the public. For further information visit the Ministry of Education website.

People asked to put off non-essential travel to Christchurch
People who are planning on visiting Christchurch in the coming week are being advised to put off their travel plans unless it is essential they visit the area. For further information visit the Environment Canterbury website.

Urban Search and Rescue
A total of 112 staff, 7 search dogs and 2 full caches of equipment have been deployed to the region. Equipment includes full complement of technical search, rescue and self sustainability modules. See New Zealand Fire Service website for updates.

Main health issues are now moving from initial treatment to public health and welfare issues.
There are ongoing issues with sewerage pipe failures and water supply problems in the Christchurch area. The public are advised to boil water prior to use (drinking, brushing teeth etc) and to avoid recreational use of water. Rivers are affected with sewage. Public health staff will be assisting the Council with water testing.

Welfare issues will also become very important in the next day or two including shelter and support for people with ongoing medical needs (e.g. access to usual medication).

In addition to the earthquake, Christchurch currently has a relatively high rate of H1N1 swine flu virus circulating in the community. Disruption to people’s housing, or accommodation in welfare centres increases the risk of a larger outbreak. Ample supplies of national reserve antivirals are available in the District Health Board district, and more can be supplied at any time. The increased risks of influenza spreading will be addressed by the District Health Board and Public Health Unit.

For other health advice call the Healthline: 0800 611 116.
For information on protecting yourself in an emergency, visit the Ministry of Health website.
For advice on food safety visit the New Zealand Food Safety Authority website.

EQC continues to receive claims, both on the 0800 DAMAGE 326 243 phone number and through the EQC website. It is expected that upwards of 100,000 claims will be lodged, but a better estimate will be known in a few days.

There have been a total of approximately 4000 claims with EQC so far. EQC is in the process of verifying if these houses are uninhabitable or not weatherproof.

Significant damage has been reported in Christchurch and some collapses in inland central Canterbury. Building damage is being collated by responding agencies.

EQC earthquake damage claims
Homeowners with insured properties that have been damaged by the earthquake can lodge a claim with the EQC. Call EQC’s free phone number 0800 DAMAGE 326 243. People have up to three months to make a claim. EQC Chief Executive Ian Simpson says he expects thousands of claims over the next few days and advises people who strike a busy signal to keep trying the lines.

An estimated 300-400 farms have been affected with around 150 severely affected by the earthquake. The main damage has been to buildings. There has been some damage to grain and storage sheds on arable farms. Water supply has been disrupted on many farms through loss of power and connections to storage tanks.

Power has been restored to 95 per cent of the urban and rural electricity network. Damage is greater than initially thought and restoration times are being extended (2–3 days).

There are closures on state highways 74 and 77 but alternate routes are available. The New Zealand Transport Agency’s main message continues to be that roads are still be assessed in the affected areas and essential travel only is advised. Weather is starting to hamper repair efforts. Metro bus services will not operate on Monday 6 September for Christchurch, Selwyn, and Waimakariri districts. Metro operations will be reviewed on a daily basis. . For further information go to

Inspections and repair operations continue on all damaged lines. West Coast coal trains may operate from this evening and the backlog of containers in transit is starting to clear. Rail is being asked to move additional freight into the South Island to assist with the distribution of fast moving consumer goods.

People in the affected area should:
– Expect aftershocks. Each time one is felt, drop, cover, and hold on.

– Assess your home or workplace for damage. If the building appears unsafe get everyone out. When outside, watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines. Stay out of damaged areas.

– Look for and extinguish small fires if it is safe to do so. Fire is a significant hazard following earthquakes.

– Listen to the radio for updated emergency information and instructions.

– Do not overload phone lines with non-emergency calls.

– Help people who require special assistance – infants, elderly people, those without transportation, families who may need additional help, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.

– Detailed safety advice will come from local authorities and emergency services in the area. People should act on it promptly.

Media Release 6 September 2010 from Civil Defence.