The earthquake in the early hours of Monday morning served to remind us how significantly our lives can change in less than two minutes.
For many of us in North Canterbury, it was a terrifying experience. The noise and movement in our 120-year-old two-storey wooden house was unbelievable and while structurally, there appears to be no significant damage, we are sleeping in the single-men’s quarters for the time being. We can be grateful there were not more fatalities, but many families have lost their homes and their land and farm infrastructure has been seriously damaged.
It seems a cruel blow, just as the region was starting to recover from drought. This earthquake and the on-going aftershocks really are testing the resilience of our rural community to the extreme.
The support that has been offered to affected farmers has been humbling and people have been only too willing to help with the initial clean-up – but recovery is going to be a long-term process.
Offers of help
I have been contacted by many skilled people offering to assist affected farmers – and their help will be needed in the days, weeks and months ahead. These include experienced shepherds and stock handlers with dogs who are willing to help with tailing and calf-marking and other stock related work, as well as fencers and tradespeople, all wanting to help get the farm infrastructure back up and running.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand is working in conjunction Federated Farmers to coordinate teams of volunteers to ensure we make the most efficient and effective use of manpower.
If you are willing to help, please phone Federated Farmers 0800 327 646 or you can call me directly on 0272 227 927. Similarly, if you been affected, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have the manpower available so make use of it. It is important to note that this support is available for ALL farmers not just Federated Farmers members.
This event has literally and figuratively turned many lives upside down. On-going aftershocks, sleepless nights and the process of dealing with EQC, insurance companies and repair work all takes its toll. We need to look after ourselves, our families and friends and don’t hesitate to ask for support – there are many people more than willing to assist.
Phil Smith is Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Northern South Island farmer director.