Communities across North Canterbury, Marlborough and Wellington were shaken when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Culverden on 14 November 2016. Tens of thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed and thousands of people evacuated in the aftermath; Kaikoura was cut off for several weeks, as slips shut down main transport routes.

New Zealand Red Cross was part of the immediate response, deploying Disaster Welfare and Support Teams to help in the worst-affected areas. Teams helped with evacuations, delivered essential supplies such as food and water, and providing emotional and social support to people in their homes and in the community.

In total, $3.6m was donated to Red Cross’ November 2016 Earthquake Appeal, enabling Red Cross to provide wide-ranging support to affected communities. Initiatives range from providing more than 350 Damaged Home Grants and delivering 500 winter care packs to households in the worst-hit areas, to supporting programmes , that promote community connectedness and wellbeing, such as social groups for older residents and young parents.

Red Cross also facilitated several Recovery Matters workshops, which help people understand how the ongoing impact of a disaster might continue to affect them and their loved ones, as well as provide them with tools to help them cope.

While a lot has been achieved during the past year, Red Cross Recovery Coordinator Jill Short says communities are still living with the effects of the disaster,.

“We know that recovery can be a long journey and for a lot of people, everyday life continues to be affected by the earthquakes. The emotional impact of a disaster can be felt long after buildings have been repaired and the physical damage has gone.

“Red Cross will continue to be there to support the worst-hit communities as they continue on their recovery path.”

Hurunui resident Wendy Hodgen says while aftershocks and ongoing challenges continue to impact locals, support from organisations such as Red Cross has helped.

“People have been under a lot of pressure and it’s been awesome to have the Red Cross around to recognise that and give support to the community. It’s just little things that give them a wee boost and show that there are people out there who care for them as well, that they’re not just there struggling by themselves.”

Learn more about how Red Cross is supporting affected communities here