Cowles welfare centre shut due to health concerns

6:53 pm on 25 February 2011

The Cowles Stadium welfare centre for Christchurch earthquake evacuees has closed for health reasons.

The centre was forced to close on Friday afternoon because water and sewage services at the site were considered unsafe.

The Christchurch City Council says it can not afford an outbreak of diarrhoea and was worried about disease and sanitation.

On Thursday night, 170 people stayed at the centre in Pages Road. Sixty of those people were relocated a centre at the Rangiora Baptist Church, while the rest have found their own accommodation.

Organisers say the centre was closed to protect the health and well-being of people staying there.

The stadium will continue to operate as an information centre during the day.

A new welfare centre has opened at Rolleston Community Centre which can provide people with a warm shower and a hot meal.

There are four welfare centres operating in Christchurch on Friday: Rangiora Baptist Church, Rolleston Community Centre, Burnside High School and the Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre.

Three free community laundries have been set up at: 79 Shands Road in Hornby, on the corner of Berswick and Charles streets in Kaiapoi, and 94 Rolleston Drive in Rolleston.

Get help if you need it

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says there have been reports of people - especially the elderly - playing down their own need in the belief that this is helping the community.

New Zealanders are a tough bunch, but this is not the time to be staunch, she says.

The Canterbury District Health Board is asking Cantabrians to be mindful that anxiety will begin to seriously affect people soon.

Many people will be feeling traumatised and scared and it is very important that people are kind to and tolerant of each other.

People seeking counselling services should ring 0800 LIFELINE or 0800 5433 5463

Burnside centre prepares for influx

The welfare centre at Burnside High School is preparing for a possible influx of people.

Red Cross team leader at the centre, Cheyenne Leslie, says about 350 people slept there on Thursday night.

Ms Leslie says as teams go door-to-door in suburbs checking on the safety of houses more people are trickling in to the centre.

The centre has no hygiene problems at this stage and commercial cleaners have been tasked with keeping the centre clean, she says.

Refuge in Ashburton

The Ashburton District Council says up to 200 people from Christchurch have been through its welfare centre by midday on Friday.

The council says many people have already booked into motels and lodges in the area.

About 80 people stayed there overnight on Thursday and the community is also offering accommodation option in lodges, camping grounds and private houses. Up to 30 people have taken up offers of billets.

The council is arranging to have counselling available at the welfare centre.

Anyone from Christchurch wanting accommodation in Ashburton can call the 24-hour helpline 0800 ASH HELP.

Dunedin centre set up

An earthquake assistance centre has been set up in Dunedin to deal with evacuees.

The centre will be based at the Dunedin Visitor Centre iSite over the weekend but will move to the Work and Income Community Link on Monday.

The centre will distribute accommodation, grants and support services.