Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Civil Defence: Earthquake response moving towards recovery

Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black says the quake response effort is now moving towards recovery.

She said the focus now is on isolated rural communities.

"This morning the navy vessel Canterbury is due back in Kaikoura from Lyttelton with supplies including power generators and fuel.

"We will be focussing on those rural, isolated and vulnerable households and continue to work with communities through the transition from response to recovery."

Stuart-Black encouraged everyone affected to call the 0800 7779 997 Government helpline for information on financial assistance and other support.

She said there had been reports of multiple landslides blocking streams and river valleys, particularly in remote and rugged areas around Kaikoura.

"We urge people in those areas to be particularly vigilant and keep clear of river valleys and outlets. Landslide dams can break quickly and release large volumes of water and sediment as a flood wave. Homes at potential risk have been advised to evacuate."

Stuart-Black said the inland road to Kaikoura was not likely to open to the public at the weekend because of concerns bad weather could cause more cracks and slips.

Work teams were pulled out yesterday because of unsafe conditions, including landslides caused by rain and continuing aftershocks: "Members of the public must not attempt to access the road."

Stuart-Black said there were assessments across the region, including in towns like Waiau. She would visit Waiau, Mt Lyford and Kaikoura to meet locals at public meetings.

On the view of some residents that they had been ignored in favour of Kaikoura, Stuart-Black said areas were receiving full support.

"Kaikoura has obviously been a particular focus because that's where the epicentre of the earthquake was, but also because it is completely cut off. A number of those other areas still have some level of road access."

During question time yesterday, NZ First MP Pita Paraone asked about reports that water - potentially a couple hundred litres - had leaked into the National Crisis Management Centre after the earthquakes.

Stuart-Black said a "very small" water leak had occurred in the bunker, but had been repaired.

"There is no water in the Beehive basement. It was caused by the earthquake. Structurally, it hasn't affected the Beehive, it hasn't affected the National Crisis Management Centre - it was just a small leak."

Ahead of the weekend, Stuart-Black said people were increasingly tired and the ongoing aftershocks were taking a cumulative toll.

"People will be feeling upset and unsettled by the earthquakes. But increasingly with tiredness being a factor, it all just becomes harder.

"So look after yourself and your family, but also keep an eye on loved ones - check in on people, and just see how they are doing."

- NZ Herald

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