Volunteer army gets stuck into the silt again

10:07 pm on 18 June 2011

Hundreds of volunteers have been out and about in the earthquake-hit eastern suburbs of Christchurch again, tackling the buildup of silt with shovels and wheelbarrows.

The city council, Fulton Hogan, City Care, Federated Farmers' "Farmy Army" and the Student Volunteer Army joined forces on Saturday for the cleanup, the operations base for which is the A&P Showgrounds.

Farmy Army organisers say many wheelbarrows, shovels, protective gloves and gumboots were donated for the cause.

There was also sandbagging work along river stopbanks, to mitigate the risk of flooding in the event of heavy rain.

Student Volunteer Army spokesperson Sam Johnson says whatever time people can give is appreciated.

"The more the merrier!" Mr Johnson says. "If you're home and not doing a lot, feel free to come along - and the same on Sunday. The project's going to be running on Sunday - in fact, all of next week we'll be stationed out here at the A&P Showgrounds."

Digging out garages, clearing paths and driveways

One volunteer who came down with her husband from Blenheim says they didn't take part in previous clean-ups but now felt people needed help because they were tired and drained by constantly having to deal with the effects of the earthquakes.

Homes alongside the Avon had a team helping dig out garages and clear paths and driveways. One resident who was able to get assistance for her elderly neighbours says the team's arrival was like a blessing.

Rural Women New Zealand says it's making mountains of high-octane food to keep volunteers well-fuelled.