Local nonprofit Love 4 Our Neighbors has started AID4ROF, a Ring of Fire Earthquake Relief Fund for areas such as Christchurch. The Ring of Fire describes the quake-prone areas of land surrounding the Pacific Ocean, including New Zealand, Japan, Chile – and California.
Love 4 Our Neighbors Director Deb Melander said Ring of Fire nations have traditionally offered mutual support. “Japan was one of the first responders to New Zealand,” she said. “When their emergency came, they obviously had to go home. Despite what they’re going through, New Zealand sent a team (to Japan) with them.”
While New Zealanders have been cleaning up the rubble from collapsed buildings, more than 3,100 aftershocks have continued to shake the area. Structures that were formerly salvageable, including the 130-year-old Christchurch Cathedral, are now condemned due to the additional damage. Sidewalks, streets and lawns have erupted in muddy geysers as silt is pushed through the soft ground, burying cars and further destabilizing building foundations. Hagley Park, 400 acres of open space in the center of Christchurch, remains crowded with families living in tents.
Winter is now beginning in New Zealand, and dangerously cold temperatures are expected. Rebuilding efforts are estimated to cost almost 60 percent of the country’s gross national income. And experts are predicting an additional 8.0+ magnitude earthquake to strike the area within the next year. New Zealand needs help.
Brentwood resident Rob Gwynne, former New Zealand resident and director of AID4ROF, is passionate about helping the recovery efforts. “Christchurch is like a city under siege. Just when they start making some progress with repairs, another quake hits. It’s three steps forward, two steps back.”
In an effort to raise awareness of the continuing New Zealand crisis, Gwynne arranged for Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor to speak with Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker. “This is a great city we have here, and it’s taken a knocking,” said Mayor Parker. “It will never be the same, but we have a chance to do something.”
Taylor offered Brentwood’s support. “We’re no longer a separate world,” he said. “I think between the Internet and instantaneous correspondence, we’re really tied together. Anything I can do for you, I certainly will.”
Plans are being made for a team of engineers from Christchurch to visit San Francisco to research building codes, retrofitting and rebuilding efforts that the city has employed during its own bouts with natural disasters. During the visit, Brentwood plans to host the contingent of engineers for a few days.
“He (Mayor Taylor) is asking the community, businesses as well as people, to help,” said Gwynne. While clothing and food are not immediate problems, the nation greatly needs monetary donations to help pay for electricity, heating and rebuilding.
To donate to relief efforts in Christchurch and other areas suffering from natural disasters, visit www.aid4rof.org or send checks to 2025 Newton Drive, Brentwood CA 94513. AID4ROF also appreciates business donations for online fundraiser auctions, school fundraisers, business profit percentage fundraisers and other fundraising ideas. For more information, call 925-240-3329.