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At the time of writing this column, Waimakariri families and residents are assessing the damage from Monday morning’s deadly 7.5 magnitude earthquake and we as a community have reached out to our neighbours in the Hurunui and Kaikōura districts. I have spoken to my colleague, Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith, about how we can best work together in responding to North Canterbury’s needs. My thoughts go out to North Canterbury families who have tragically lost a loved one in this event.

It’s another reminder to look out for each other and to check up on our neighbours. Many of our elderly and children could experience distress after the aftershocks have tapered off and, with my background in mental health, I know it is important to check with family and friends to see they are getting the support they need.  

Like others, I was up in the night for my family and I was in contact with Waimakariri District Council CEO Jim Palmer for a briefing on how our area fared. We were lucky in that our infrastructure and a large number of our buildings have been upgraded to cope with issues arising from these events.  I acknowledge both our council and private building owners for the earthquake assessments that were undertaken and the work that was done to increase our ability to cope with events like Monday’s.  Safer buildings help save lives.

I was reassured by the quick response from both the community and Civil Defence.  While the event was a sober reminder of what our community has gone through with earthquakes, the reassurance is that we have learnt so much and are getting better in our response to earthquakes and aftershocks.

I have requested to be involved in debriefings at central and local government level so I welcome any feedback you have.  A big thank you to the volunteers at the welfare evacuation centres in Rangiora, Woodend, Kaiapoi and Oxford for supporting our community through the night.

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