On Tuesday 22nd February 2011 CWS New Zealand was rocked to its core. At 12:51pm a 6.3 earthquake shook the city to its foundations. The CWS office which is located in Manchester Street, Christchurch Central was evacuated and all staff who were in the building were accounted for. Those who were out of the office were also accounted for within an hour. The building has not been destroyed but is in the middle of what can best be described as ground zero. As staff stood together in the street supporting each other and complete strangers, buildings were collapsing, people were screaming and one member of staff Nick Clarke joined the rescue effort to get people out of the building opposite our offices.
The immediate feeling is one of survival as we all wanted to know if family members and friends were alive and accounted for. Fortunately for us all our families have been accounted for and all of us were able to get out of the city. Most on foot with vehicles in multi story parking buildings left. Many staff have suffered substantial damage to their homes and varying degrees of personal trauma.
We do not know when we will be able to get anything from our offices. The city is completely cordoned off and it will be some time. After the September quake we were not allowed back for a month and this quake has been much more devastating for us and our supporting churches. What this will mean for us we do not know at this stage, we were about to launch a campaign and appeal for funds due to the changes in our funding situation which is now in doubt as our supporters are also in the same situation.
Many of our very supportive churches have been devastated this includes Christ Church Cathedral where 22 people are believed to be dead, Durham Street Methodist where 3 people are confirmed dead, Knox Presbyterian, St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian, St Luke’s Anglican and St John’s Anglican in the CBD as well as many in the suburbs and Lyttleton.
Christchurch is a close knit community and we will all know someone who has been killed or seriously injured, this information is still coming to hand.
We thank everyone for their prayers and offers of help at this time.
We are monitoring email and the best contact is firstname.lastname@example.org or Pauline McKay National Director on +64 21 2891225