Two days after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the Canterbury region of New Zealand, The Salvation Army in Christchurch was caring for more than 400 people made homeless by the disaster.
Salvation Army emergency services personnel and volunteers are staffing welfare centers in the Christchurch suburbs of Burnside, Linwood and Addington. Each centre provided around 400 meals yesterday. Rangiora Corps (Salvation Army church) provided accommodation, food and comfort to 50 people overnight in Kaiapoi.
The Salvation Army also supplied food parcels from its centers, including a bulk consignment for members of the Samoan Seventh Day Adventist Church, who were sheltering in their church.
Major Clive Nicolson, commander of The Salvation Army’s Southern Division in New Zealand, expects similar demand for welfare services to continue for the foreseeable future. ‘Beyond that,’ he said, ‘there will be an ongoing need for clothing, furniture and food, as well as advocacy for people needing help with Government agencies and other organizations.’
Westpac Bank in New Zealand has committed NZ$1 million to the Westpac Canterbury Care Fund, naming The Salvation Army as its senior partner. The Salvation Army will use some of the money to help those needing food, shelter and care, and put the rest towards those needing longer-term support.
‘The Salvation Army is one of the most respected and recognized community care organizations in New Zealand,’ said Westpac Chief Executive Officer George Frazis. ‘We are thrilled to welcome them as a primary partner with the Westpac Canterbury Care Fund.
‘When the state of emergency is lifted, central funding for The Salvation Army stops, but the needs of the people in Christchurch whose lives have been turned upside down will continue for some time.’
Commissioner Don Bell, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army’s New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory, said: ‘The Salvation Army welcomes the contribution and partnership of Westpac, which we know is focused on getting the people of Canterbury back on their feet as soon as possible.
‘The funds donated by Westpac will give a solid base from which we can meet emerging needs, which we will understand more fully in coming days. The Salvation Army will work with the community to ensure this money makes a real difference to those affected by this weekend’s devastating earthquake. It is our privilege and our responsibility to work with the Canterbury community in such difficult circumstances.’
The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) donated $250,000 to The Salvation Army for immediate use. The public has so far donated $34,000 to The Salvation Army’s earthquake appeal.
Several companies are talking to The Salvation Army about providing food and personal care products.
A number of Salvation Army properties were damaged in the quake. One house moved off its foundations, with cracks and broken windows reported in other buildings. The St Albans Corps hall has significant structural damage, with one crack that starts on the hall’s asphalt driveway extending through the building.
Access to some areas of Christchurch is still restricted, with structural assessments of Salvation Army properties in the city’s central business district not yet completed.