Christchurch councils are sending key staff to Kaikoura to help assess the extent of the earthquake damage and lend its support to the response effort.
Christchurch City Council Chief Executive Dr Karleen Edwards has also confirmed there will be a review of the activation of the tsunami sirens following Monday morning’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake as part of the debrief of the Civil Defence response.
“We’ve heard feedback from people there was uncertainty over the evacuation and we want to make sure that we learn from this experience, but our immediate priority at the moment is helping our neighbours and making sure we offer them whatever support we can,’’ Dr Edwards said.
“We had tremendous support from around New Zealand in our time of need and now it’s our turn to give back. This morning we’ve sent a team of nine building inspectors to Kaikoura to help inspect the damage to the buildings. They are being flown into Kaikoura by the Air Force and will be helping with building evaluations across the district.
“We’ve also sent some of our top engineers to help assess the damage to the town’s infrastructure, including its water supply,’’ Dr Edwards said. “We want to put the lessons we learnt to use and help Kaikoura restore its basic services as quickly as possible.’’
Council staff have also been sent to fill key Civil Defence roles. Environment Canterbury has also sent staff to Kaikoura.
Christchurch Civil Defence was working with the Regional Emergency Management Office to get 1500 chemical toilets to Kaikoura and would be also offering to lend the town its portable water chlorinators.
“As we get assessments on the grounds of the needs in Kaikoura it is likely that we will send more resources. That could have some impact on service delivery here but this is a crisis situation and we need to do everything we can to support our neighbours through this disaster,’’ Dr Edwards said.
In the meantime the Christchurch Civil Defence team were working to set up reception centres for people evacuated by air and sea from Kaikoura. The navy ship HMNZS Canterbury has been sent to Kaikoura and will begin evacuating people on Wednesday. Helicopters are also being used to evacuate people from the township, which is currently completely cut-off by road and rail.
Dr Edwards said the Council was liaising closely with support agencies and local authorities. Once it was known what practical assistance from individuals and communities would be of most use, it would let people know.