Farmy Army volunteers have found elderly people stuck in shocking conditions:
John Hartnell of Federated Farmers says there are homes with up to a foot of silt inside, but the elderly occupants are too afraid to leave and seek help.
“There are people really struggling, they don’t have enough food, water’s a problem and there’s cases where people have been too scared to come out of their properties and it’s taken a degree of coaxing to get them to come out and let us come in to help them.”
Mr Hartnell says many have no power, running water or sanitation services. The farmer volunteers have lifted carpets and dried out homes as best they can.
When natural disaster strikes we expect government – local and central – to react and help. But we can not rely on that help when we need it if they don’t know of our plight or they have higher priorities.
In the first instance we must help ourselves, our families, our neighbours and communities.
Modern life has made that more difficult – people are more mobile, families are scattered, neighbours keep to themselves.
In spite of that there are many heart warming stories from Christchurch of people helping people, neighbours looking after neighbours, strangers caring for others in need.
Sadly sometimes, as in the cases the Farmy Army and other volunteers have found, not everyone who needed that support received it.
That isn’t in the first instance a failure of government, central or local, or of civil defence. It’s a failure of community and fortunately it happened to only a minority.
It will be no comfort to those who were in need and neglected that they were among a small number of people who had no-one close by to care for or about them.
But Christchurch its people and the thousands of volunteers from outside can be proud that they helped, supported and comforted so many.
The community which failed a few made a huge difference to many others.