I was planning the usual tale of where I was during Monday’s quake flurry and how it’s impacted on me as a Chch person, but in the interim something has come up. And it’s made me so angry that I am uncharacteristically thumbing this post sans images or links, on the bus.
There’s a cry from Civil Defence. Or perhaps a.head pat. Sit down, Chch, it says. We’ve got the pros on the case now. Don’t act. Don’t help. Just hand your cash to the Red Cross because they know better than you what it’s like to be quake hit and shut off.
Six years ago the people of this city lost control of their lives. The simplest things became impossible. Flushing the toilet. Shutting the door properly. Trusting in the ground below to be where you left it in the morning. Many of us found ourselves in strangers’ homes, being handed comforts while our friends dug silt out of their living rooms.
At that time, people who lived north of here stuffed buses full of goods and brought them to our worst affected places. And yes, the Red Cross helped. And armies and doctors and passionate individuals.
It was grassroots action that saved our city and smoothed our torn-up paths out of chaos and trauma. It was grassroots action that kept us singing and dancing and gave us beauty to look at. Grassroots actions have kept us on the map. It was other people who made us cups of tea and dug our long drops, not the Red Cross. The SVA, the Farmy Army were not international organisations with, unfortunately, form in messing up in cases of natural disaster. I do not want to denigrate the Red Cross. It did some good work and is probably doing so now. But I am not putting in money that might just go to advertising and wages when I can actually help.
We are experts in being quake affected New Zealanders. And we want to pay back. To tell us now that our grassroots actions are unwanted, that our expertise is nothing, is like having our power removed all over again.
So no, I will not, this time, donate to the Red Cross. I’m putting tea bags and wet wipes and sanitary pads and rubbish bags in a chopper already bound for Kaikoura. And if they don’t go there they will go to quake refugees like the one I was in 2011. Because I know how this works. This is our thing. This is personal.