4 September quake

Before dawn on Saturday 4 September 2010, trained New Zealand Red Cross volunteers were grabbing their overalls, boots and kit and heading out to help Cantabrians in need after the 7.1 quake. They were soon joined by volunteers from around the country. Paul Sharp and his Dunedin response team colleagues shared their diary.

"Sunday 5 September: At about midday we received a call requesting a team to travel to Christchurch. Just after 2pm, 15 of us set off.

"Not much chance to rest, as we were immediately divided into three teams of five. Team one started a shift at the Addington Raceway welfare centre at 8.30pm. This is one of the three larger welfare centres, with just under 100 evacuees spending the night. They worked until 2.30am when they had 4 hours off.

"Our tasks are registering newcomers, directing them to other agencies and making sure they have everything they need for a safe, warm and dry stay. We help them set up their beds and find blankets and pillows. And we are a friendly ear if they want to have a chat.

"Monday 6 September: Members of our three teams got a small amount of sleep (guessing on average two to four hours) overnight.

"We started shifts at 11pm with eight hours on, eight hours off in each of the three main welfare centres, Addington Raceway, Linwood College and Burnside High School.

"Linwood was generally quiet with a gentle hum of activity, and starting to settle down for the night. with about 50 to 60 evacuees. Addington had about 100.

"Then we had two aftershocks around 11.30pm. A 5.2 was followed shortly by a 5.4.

"After the quakes, people started coming into the welfare centres. By 2am we had over 110 people at Linwood and Addington had 165. Members of team one were woken early and went in to add support to Addington.

"Again, things were finally quietening down with most going to sleep when another 5.4 aftershock hit at at 3.30am.

"This had an immediate effect with everyone up and a lot of anxious people.

"Our group here is quite mixed - lots of families and singles, two families (of five and 12 members each) isolated with gastroenteritis, more than a handful of pregnant mums. Some are calm and quiet, but others are anxious and often needing a chat with someone.

"We are told that an aftershock of around 6.0 is still a possibility."

- Red Cross News, 2010