Panic Buying In Christchurch

In Australasia, Earthquakes & Tsunamis, News Headlines

There are reports of panic buying in Christchurch supermarkets as people come to terms with the city’s latest earthquake.

Some stores are limiting the amount of customers allowed inside at any one time due to panic buying.

Shenleigh van’t Wout from the charity 0800 Hungry says when she went shopping yesterday, security guards were needed to stop supermarket customers from overloading.

“The media’s trying to explain to people that there won’t be a shortage of food and water and stuff, but I think people’s mindset is that there’s been a disaster [and] they need to have everything that they can possibly carry,” she said.

0800 Hungry, which gives food to people in need, had its warehouse and large amounts of food damaged by the earthquake.

Even as it salvages its stock, the charity is still delivering food parcels to people in isolated areas of the city.

Ms van’t Wout told ABC Radio’s PM program that the organisation was doing what it can to get food to people.

“We’re frantically trying to sort the stock and get it into some semblance of order so that we can, as soon as we get power, so we can get our phone network back up [and] we can be assisting people as we normally do,” she said.

“At the moment we’re having to just send out trucks into communities and distribute food that way.”

Ms van’t Wout says the warehouse sustained quite a lot of damage.

She says the building has structural damage and the goods are strewn everywhere.

“People think of food banks as small little rooms but ours is slightly different; ours comes directly from the suppliers, so our stock is all palletised stock, so we’re talking hundreds of pallets of stock, rather than boxes of stock,” she said.

“It’s just like pallets hanging precariously in places and the pallet racking leaning over. And we’re hoping that we’ll get some power soon so that we don’t lose the stuff in the freezers and chillers.”

Ms van’t Wout says it is hard to gauge the level of demand for food.

“Our phones aren’t ringing because we haven’t got power and the way our phone system’s hooked up we need power,” she said.

“But from the people coming back in from on the truck, people are really grateful for the food that they’ve been given.”

Ms van’t Wout says 0800 Hungry is about a quarter of the way through cleaning up their warehouse.

She says people are hurting and they are trying to get help out as fast as possible.

“We’re just going to areas that we can get into that are hard hit,” she said.

“Yesterday they went to Somner, but constantly places are being evacuated and situations are changing or they’re moving. They moved most people out of the parks into welfare centres and the welfare centres are all catered by the government so they don’t need assistance from us, so it’s just the people who have stayed around.

“The place is starting to look at little bit like a ghost town down a lot of streets because people have left town.”

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