Queues at WINZ office for emergency help

2:58 pm on 26 February 2011

Queues formed outside the Work and Income office in the Christchurch suburb Riccarton on Saturday morning as people affected by Tuesday's earthquake sought emergency help.

About 30 people were waiting at the office for the doors to open.

One woman waiting with her two daughters said she had no power or water, hadn't been able to access her pay, and was at the office to try to get some food for the next couple of days.

Another man, who rents a house in central Christchurch, said he had no money and was there to get help with food, and also needed batteries for his radio.

Emergency grants reach 6000

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says Work and Income staff are being flexible about making Civil Defence payments, adding there is no limit to the number of grants people can get.

Ms Bennett says she will look into whether people are getting enough to cover emergency expenses such as for food, clothing and nappies and whether she needs to issue a directive for staff to use more discretion.

Ms Bennett says more than 6000 grants totalling more than $1 million have been paid so far. Payments have averaged $165.

People running out of emergency supplies

The Red Cross says some people's personal emergency supplies are beginning to run out, and those people need more help from authorities.

More than 150 volunteers went door to door in the suburbs on Friday, checking on people's safety and whether they had enough food and water.

National programmes manager David Neal said that among the people seen by volunteers were an elderly couple living in the lounge of a house which had floodwater and silt on the floor who were running out of stored food and bottled water. Mr Neal said a special group was set up to assist people with serious problems.