We are ok. Wellington is 300 or so kilometres from Christchurch. We felt the quake here and I got home to find one end of the washing line leaning over but that's the extent of it for Wellington. No work got done in my office yesterday afternoon. We joke about how New Zealand is so small that everyone knows everyone else - it's not quite true but there's nobody here that doesn't know somebody there, and yesterday was all about trying to find out if those people were ok. The only person I don't know about yet is phaetonschariot so if anyone's heard from her I'd love to know.
Wellington was very quiet this morning. It took me a while to realise what was missing - it was the voices of people chatting the way they normally do on the way to work. Today, everyone was in their own zone, avoiding eye contact, stern-faced and silent. It was eerie.
What do you do when something like this happens and you're too far away to be of any direct help? Well, according to the people I work with, you glue yourself to the TV or obsessively refresh the internet for any little bit of news that will help you make sense of what's happening. Or you hunt down useful information and make sure everyone has it. The internet has changed the face of disaster response, that's for sure. For example at about 6 last night Wellington Airport tweeted that they needed accommodation for stranded passengers. 45 minutes later they tweeted again "All sorted, thank you Wellington."
But mostly, you just wave your hands around helplessly, not really knowing what to say or think, and wishing that you were lifting bricks instead of flailing to make yourself useful. Or you try to stay out of the way of people that actually are useful. And send throughts, good vibes, prayers, whatever, to the people who actually need it.
Anyway, here's a list of places where people who aren't in Christchurch can go to get information or offer help or donate or DO something:
Canterbury Earthquake Appeal
Donate to the Red Cross (NB this site was down when I looked - probably overloaded - but should be back up reasonably quickly).
Person finder that has been set up to help find loved ones.
Where to go to volunteer. This seems to be only if you're on the spot.
Apparently the Red Cross have enough blood right now but will make sure everyone knows if they need some.
Civil Defence information. This site has a LOT of information about what's going on. Apparently visitors in Christchurch are being relocated to Wellington to free up accommodation for residents of Christchurch. Tweet from @LisaKPreston a couple of hours ago:
"If you have accommodation available in Wellington for the next two days, please let the Wellington i-SITE know - we expect high demand" Wellington i-site here.
Update: Here's an email address to offer accommodation for displaced folks from Christchurch: contact@WellingtonNZ.com They say they have things under control but are gathering information.
Donate toilet paper, deodorant and soap.
All of which caused me to stop watching Libya. Apparently their esteemed leader, who I suspect is a bit mad, has vowed to go down fighting and thinks he'll be a martyr that way. He made a speech about this sometime after we all got distracted. The pictures coming out of Libya yesterday were horrific but it appears that at least some members of the army and airforce there are refusing to turn guns on their fellow citizens and have defected. I hope there will be no more bloodshed. Can we have some good news now?
Also, is there anyone in the world who knows how to spell the Libyan leader's name?
[EDIT] More places to offer beds.