Ohakea Air Force pilot pitches in to help Kaikoura after magnitude 7.5 earthquake

Emotions were high at Woodend School when earthquake evacuees from Kaikoura landed. Anita Sutherland greeting Rebecca ...
Joseph Johnson

Emotions were high at Woodend School when earthquake evacuees from Kaikoura landed. Anita Sutherland greeting Rebecca Cresswell and her husband John Cresswell, their 2-year-old Olly Cresswell, and Sean Cresswell, 9, with Tyler Cresswell, 4.

An Ohakea Air Force pilot helping people flee Kaikoura says some are leaving with only a supermarket bag full of belongings to their name. 

Wing commander Scott McKenzie, who is the commander of 3 Squadron at Ohakea Air Force base, is one of four pilots flying NH90 helicopters with supplies into Kaikoura, then flying people out, after the magnitude 7.5 quake. 

The NH90 helicopters are flying between Christchurch and Kaikoura, bringing in essentials such as fuel, water, diesel for generators and toilet paper. 

Wing commander Scott McKenzie says there is a fair amount of relief for some people getting out of Kaikoura.
NZDF

Wing commander Scott McKenzie says there is a fair amount of relief for some people getting out of Kaikoura.

McKenzie said they were then lifting out people, loading passengers on board 14 at a time and transporting them to Woodend School in Christchurch where the Red Cross were waiting. 

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He said people who were leaving showed a variety of emotions.

Arranged Marriage, an Indian restaurant in Palmerston North, had about 40 glasses smash in the earthquake.
supplied

Arranged Marriage, an Indian restaurant in Palmerston North, had about 40 glasses smash in the earthquake.

"I think there's a fair amount of relief they have got out of there, there's no running water, nothing in the way of food.

"They are relieved to be on board." 

Helicopters were transporting out permanent residents as well as tourists stranded in the area. 

"A lot of the tourists are bringing their suitcases out but there [are] some people with supermarket shopping bags and that's all they have got," McKenzie said. 

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"All they are bringing out is a change of clothes and toilet bag and that will be about it." 

The damage to buildings was not obvious, but land damage was 

"The damage around the land is quite catastrophic in some areas. There's thousands and thousands of rocks and boulders on State Highway 1."

McKenzie said the NH90 helicopters were perfect for this kind of mission. 

"It's the right aircraft doing the right job at the moment, and our people love being able to help out our fellow Kiwis and help those tourists stuck up there as well." 

Other Manawatu residents were also heading out of town to lend a hand, with two structural engineers heading to Wellington on Wednesday to help with safety checks on Wellington City Council's facilities.

Senior civil engineer Ross Nicholson from the Palmerston North City Council and Chantelle Bailey, a structural engineer with GHD, wer  being deployed in response to a request from the Wellington council.

PNCC city enterprises general manager Ray McIndoe said Mayor Grant Smith had offered their assistance on Monday. 

"The engineers will be working on a variety of Wellington City Council facilities including libraries and community centres.

"At this stage they'll be in the capital until the end of the week."

On Monday PNCC undertook a thorough inspection of Palmerston North's services and infrastructure and confirmed they were all operating as normal following the quakes.

In Palmerston North most of the superficial damage done had been cleaned up, with one restaurant suffering more than 40 smashed wine glasses. 

The manager of Arranged Marriage Indian restaurant on The Square in Palmerston North said they had up to 50 wine glasses smash the night of the earthquake. 

They were closed on Monday, so managed to spend the day sorting the mess. 

 

 - Stuff

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