Prior to the November 2016 earthquake, Yvonne Cheney never really thought about Red Cross. She’d seen that the organisation worked internationally during disasters and armed conflict but didn’t know that it did anything locally.

That all changed after her community in Culverden was rocked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The small town was right near the epicentre and is still recovering from the disaster.

Earlier this year an elderly community member Yvonne is close to received a winter bedding pack from New Zealand Red Cross and she was very impressed.

“I saw some things Red Cross was doing after the earthquake and I was so amazed when this person received their [winter bedding pack]. It was just wonderful.”

Yvonne assisted them in unpacking it and putting the new sheets on their bed. They were reluctant at first, insisting they didn’t need it but came around once they saw the contents: hot water bottles, a blanket, new pillows, and warm sheets.

“It’s just great to know that you [Red Cross] work locally,” Yvonne says.

“We’re quite resilient and self-sufficient in this community. But possibly there are people struggling. I know myself that when I hear a truck roll past I pause. I think most people are moving on though.”

These days there appears to be a lot more thought amongst community members about the potential for another disaster and preparations to make sure they can deal with it until help arrives.

“I think most of us keep a reasonable stock of food too [in case of another emergency],” Yvonne says.

Despite the devastation caused by the November 2016 earthquake, Yvonne believes it has had a lasting, positive impact on the small community.

“It has made people a bit more motivated to do things. There are outreach programmes for the elderly now and there’s certainly a lot of different groups that are bringing good things into the community and providing support.”

Find out more

If you'd like to find out more about how we've been helping communities recover from disasters, you can check out this story.