Although relief efforts – and international attention – have been focused on Kaikoura, which has been cut off from road access since the quake struck in the early hours of Monday, other communities have also been hit. And some feel they need more help than they are getting, as Eleanor Ainge Roy reports from Waiau, the town closest to the epicentre:
Waiau, in north Canterbury, is home to 280 people. Its name means flowing water in Māori. And flowing water has been the community’s main concern these last couple of days, after unstable bridges over the grey Waiau river made road access impossible for relief vehicles, or residents wanting to leave.
Although located only 80km (50 miles) south-west of Kaikoura – where a massive relief operation is under way – people in Waiau feel they have been left to fend for themselves.
Since the 7.5-magnitude quake, food supplies have been salvaged from the collapsed pub and Brenda Smith’s tea shop. An elderly woman’s oxygen bottle has been hooked up to a farm generator to keep her alive.
About 200 people who no longer have a place to call home are camping on the grass beside a primary school playground.
Initial estimates by surveyors flown in to inspect the damage to the town suggest at least 15 buildings may have to be demolished, leaving as many as half of the residents facing an uncertain future.
The fire chief, Hugh Wells, said he realised the community would need to mobilise rapidly because help would not be arriving any time soon.
“I basically thought, if we are this bad, how bad is the…
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