Following the 7.1 earthquake, mounds of toxic silt contaminated the streets of Christchurch.

The 7.1 earthquake shook Christchurch hours before dawn in New Zealand’s second largest city. Thousands of homes experienced power, water and sewage shutoffs, and many of the city’s buildings were reduced to rubble, including those in downtown and suburban areas. 

The Scientology Volunteer Ministers immediately arrived on the scene to help in whatever capacity was needed. 

As aftershocks continued to rumble through Christchurch, silt bubbled up from the ground and filled some lawns and homes up to a foot deep. This sewage-contaminated silt rose throughout the city, prompting the VMs to organize a team of 400 volunteers to aid in the cleanup. With shovels and wheelbarrows in hand, they worked from Addington Raceway, located in the Christchurch suburb of Riccarton, to the city of Kaiapoi, 20 kilometers away.

Making contact with personnel of the Civil Defense, the Volunteer Ministers (VMs) began to deliver assists—techniques developed by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard to help people overcome spiritual and emotional trauma. The VMs also worked in conjunction with the Red Cross, the New Zealand Army and the Earthquake Organizational Center.

While the citywide cleanup is complete, much remains to be done. Christchurch, in the midst of an economic recovery plan well before the earthquake hit, now confronts 340,000 residents set back by the catastrophe as well as a $4 billion bill to handle the damages of the disaster.

All the more reason why it’s fortunate the VMs are around, on call 24/7 to aid the city in emerging from this crisis, ensuring the availability of effective solutions to handle even the worst of times.