Christchurch earthquake: Relief at hand for the eastern suburbs

By Claire Trevett, Adam Bennett

With the rescue phase over in Christchurch's central city, authorities were yesterday working to restore vital services to the city's badly hit eastern suburbs as the Government acknowledged help had been slow coming.

Labour's Christchurch East MP, Lianne Dalziel, bloggers and residents of the eastern suburbs themselves have raised concerns about a lack of toilets, water and power in the wake of last week's quake.

Residents of some areas had reportedly taken matters into their own hands by stealing Port-a-loos from other suburbs.

While national Civil Defence controller John Hamilton yesterday said the eastern suburbs had not been forgotten and everything possible was being done to provide help, a spokesman for Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee acknowledged, "It is apparent, given the scale out there, that there just wasn't sufficient hardware out there, loos and the like."

Early yesterday, Mr Brownlee made it clear at a Civil Defence meeting that relief for the eastern suburbs "had to be a priority".

"It was agreed and they're working on it," the spokesman said.

Prime Minister John Key said that given the significant loss of life in the central city, "it's been appropriate to prioritise that area".

However, he had seen the eastern suburbs soon after the quake, and "obviously it sustained a lot more damage" than in last September's jolt. He would visit the area again today.

"I understand the issues and I understand the stress completely ... The process has been slow. I think we accept that but it's not for the want of trying. I'll have a look tomorrow and ask more questions."

He had sought assurances from authorities that every effort was going into helping the residents of the badly affected areas.

"On the advice we've had they've been doing the best that they can.

"I'm confident that the resources will be applied to the east of Christchurch as rapidly as they physically can be."

At Avonside, some relief had filtered in. Yesterday, power returned to many houses and the roads were largely cleared of the mountains of silt collected from the roads and gardens.

However, even the arrival of 80 more Port-a-loos in Avonside and neighbouring Dallington meant residents were still relying on sparsely placed Port-a-loos along the main roads, far away from the back streets.

Local resident Amie Wagenvoord said having power would make a massive difference but she was angered at reports that other suburbs got more help, faster.

"They promised us that all the hardest-hit areas would be treated the same, that no one else was getting more help than others in similar situations."

Two Port-a-loos had mysteriously appeared further along the road, reportedly stolen from other suburbs which had plenty.

"Vigilantes! We are creating anarchy. People are driving down the roads stealing Port-a-loos - that's what it's got down to."

Her husband, Scott Wagenvoord, said a friend who lived in Spreydon had told him they now had water and could use their toilets, but still had Port-a-loos on most streets.

However, he felt most for Bexley and was delighted to hear they were getting individual chemical toilets.

"For the last six months, they've lived what we're only just livingnow."

He conceded there was some suburb envy and a perception the wealthier suburbs got more help, faster.

"I drive home through Fendalton and they've already got spray paint on the roads indicating where potholes need fixing.

"But let's not be bitter."

AID TO THE EAST
* 400 welfare and 50 search-and-rescue staff are visiting homes in the area.
* 86 extra Port-a-loos were to be delivered to Avonside and Dallington yesterday.
* 1200 more are due by the weekend.
* 2000 chemical toilets were due to be delivered by the army tomorrow.
* 30,000 more were due to arrive by Sunday.
* 87 per cent of Christchurch homes had power on by yesterday.
* 67 per cent had water.

HOW TO DONATE

RED CROSS, redcross.org.nz

Salvation Army, salvationarmy.org.nz or call 0800 530 000

Government appeal, christchurchquakeappeal.govt.nz

ANZ/NATIONAL

Donations can be made at ANZ branches or online to account number 01-1839-0188939-00; also at National Bank branches or online to account number 06-0869-0548507-00. ANZ will donate $1 million in relief for assistance and it will match staff donations.

WESTPAC

Donations can be made online to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, account number 03-0207-0617331-00, and through branches nationwide to the Salvation Army.

ASB

Has opened an account to receive donations: 12-3205-0146808-00. Donations can also be made at ASB branches nationwide, or via online banking.

BNZ

Donate online or at branches, account number 02-0500-0982004-000.

- NZ Herald

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