12 Dec 2016

Cut-off Clarence River families feeling left out

6:57 am on 12 December 2016

A Clarence River woman is writing to authorities claiming the residents of the valley north of Kaikōura have been forgotten post-quake.

Clarence River

An image of Clarence River shows dust caused by an aftershock on 14 November. Photo: AFP

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake reshaped the Clarence River valley and destroyed its bridge.

Jacqui Hamilton has a part-time administration job at Clarence River Rafting but is blocked from reaching her second job, at Hapuku School.

She has friends who cannot get to their jobs at the Kaikōura supermarket, council and bus company.

A bridge leading to her Clarence Valley house is down, and though a rough access road has been opened she is too scared to use it.

Steve Millard of Clarence Valley Trophy Hunting doesn't blame her.

"I took the bulldozer out and cleared a lot of slips and that off it that the earthquake caused, so we can get out but only in dry weather."

The clay track is too slippery in wet weather and a ford at a creek is too high for anything other than a high-clearance 4WD.

"All we wanted to do is put a bit of gravel on it so we could use it in all weather," said Mr Millard. "Council wasn't going to pay for it and there would be no more, and the next day we got stopped."

He said the lack of information was not good enough.

Ms Hamilton said it was ridiculous she had to resort writing to the council to protest and ask what was going on, when the district was in a state of local emergency.

"We haven't talked to the council at all since the earthquake," she said,

"We've had no updates from the council or NZTA [Transport Agency] about when they are going to start working. They are working south to make sure that Kaikōura has access but they ... seem to have forgotten that there's people who live in this area who depend on income."

Eight or so households are up above the failed Glen Alton bridge, including that of Chris Henry, the doctor who helped rescue a 100-year-old woman at Elms Homestead on the night of the quake.

District councillor Celeste Harnett has weighed in, advising Jacqui Hamilton to write to the council. Mrs Harnett said she was also asking council engineers to talk to people in Clarence.

"Someone should really be keeping in contact with them maybe every three days because even if there isn't a full plan in place yet they still need to know what's happening and also feel like they're being heard, and it just sounds like that hasn't really happened."

Mayor Winston Gray said he hoped to know shortly what would happen to State Highway 1 to the north, once geotechnical work was done.

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