18 Aug 2013

Seddon residents urged to seek help for mental wellbeing

9:59 pm on 18 August 2013

A rural welfare support group and Red Cross are urging Seddon residents to seek help for their mental wellbeing if they need to, after Friday's 6.6 earthquake.

Top of the South Rural Support Trust says many homes around Seddon are vacant after their occupants fled, seeking comfort with friends or moving to places where they feel safer in the event of another quake.

Trust field facilitator Ian Blair says seven pairs of inspectors, consisting of a member of LandSAR and a Marlborough District Council building inspector, have been leaving notes for those who have left their homes.

"Yesterday I flew over the area by helicopter and in some cases we buzzed houses without any sort of response. So I suspect there is quite a considerable number of houses, and certainly rental accommodation, which is at the present time not being habitated."

Mr Blair says anyone needing support can get in touch with him on 0800 787 254. He says part of the recovery is talking through the issues and people could also take time out from their property for a few days and contact their doctor if they have trouble sleeping.

Meanwhile Red Cross has closed down its Seddon operations. Five people spent Saturday night in the centre, down from more than 20 who stayed on Friday night.

Red Cross spokesperson Gerard Moore says the community spirit in Seddon is similar to what he witnessed after the 2011 quake in Christchurch.

"People respond in different ways but you see the same type of reactions all over the place, whichever the situation, and you see the same great traits in people supporting each other and the wonderful stories of help and assistance," he says.

Red Cross says people needing assistance can go to the information centre on on State Highway One, but a spokesperson says householders may also need emotional support after they come home and are upset by what they find. She says they can ring Victim Support on 0800 842 846.

The spokesperson says young people who feel stressed or affected by the Seddon quake can get support and information from the Red Cross website: addressthestress.co.nz

Inspections indicate quake damage to most homes

Initial inspections of the 250 homes in Seddon on Saturday showed most homes in the town have sustained some damage.

Five of them are uninhabitable, but the damage to the rest is restricted to roofs, brickwork, chimneys and windows, and most appear to be structurally sound.

Council civil defence spokesperson Rosie Bartlett says the inspections are to determine only if houses are safe to live in and residents should contact their insurers and the Earthquake Commission to get a full assessment.

A welfare centre has been set up at Seddon School.

A welfare centre has been set up at Seddon School. Photo: RNZ

The MP for Kaikoura, Colin King, says the earthquake could easily have caused fatalities if it had occured at a different time.

Marlborough Hospital treated five people for injuries related to the quake.

Mr King says the town escaped lightly in terms of injuries and emergency services could have been dealing with a very different situation.

"When a chimney goes down ...or the church, if there was a congregation in it at the time, there wouldn't have been only casualties, there would have been fatalities," he says.

Trench to take pressure off dam

Work is continuing on Sunday on an emergency trench alongside a private dam near Seddon following torrential rain in the area.

The 20 metre high dam on Haldon Road can hold 250,000 cubic metres of water.

Owner Dick Bell says the trench will redirect water to a catchment.

The Marlborough District Council says lowering the water level is a precautionary step in the interests of public safety.

It says an engineer found the latest quakes are unlikely to have compromised the dam's safety.

Crane to demolish lift shaft arrives in Wellington

Wellington City Council says the remaining parts of a 400 tonne crane being transported from Christchurch have arrived and it expects the demolition of an earthquake-damaged lift shaft to resume Monday morning.

The elevator shaft in Lukes Lane.

The elevator shaft in Lukes Lane. Photo: RNZ

Council spokesperson Richard MacLean says workers will spend Sunday night reassembling the crane which will remove a concrete slab at the top of the external shaft, weighing at least 30 tonnes.

Mr MacLean says workers on Saturday removed some steel framing and an electric lift motor weighing about three tonnes from the top of the shaft, but the big crane will be used to demolish it completely.

The nine-storey structure in Lukes Lane was damaged by last month's big earthquake and the damage was made worse by Friday's quake.

Mr MacLean says specialist crane operators are also heading to Wellington, along with at least two engineers who have worked on multi-storey demolitions in Christchurch.

Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon is optimistic the stadium will get the all clear for next week's Bledisloe cup match.

The venue remains closed and is due to be inspected by engineers on Monday.

Victoria University says its campuses will open again for classes on Monday morning.

Region still shaking

GeoNet says the Cook Strait region has been hit by more than 3000 earthquakes in the past month.

It says since 19 July there have been more than 100 earthquakes greater than magnitude 4.0 and 600 greater than magnitude 3.0.

Three earthquakes have measured above magnitude 6.0, the largest being Friday's magnitude 6.6 shake.

GeoNet says there is a 56% probability of an earthquake greater than magnitude 5.0 hitting Cook Strait in the next week.