Landslip evacuation: 'It could have been much worse'

11:06 am on 24 July 2017

A Dunedin family got out of their home about 10 minutes before a landslip came down beside their property in the winter storm that hit the city.

The slip at Ravenswood Road, St Clair, Dunedin.

The landslip at Ravenswood Road, St Clair, Dunedin. About 12 properties were evacuated on Saturday. Photo: Supplied / Keith Kelsall

Twelve properties were evacuated on Ravenswood Road, St Clair, on Saturday after part of the hillside above suddenly began moving during the wet weather. Residents were able to return home to all but one property on Sunday.

The state of emergency declared for Otago was lifted today. Dunedin Civil Defence has invoked a 28-day transition period, which gives the city council extra powers to carry out emergency-related work.

Keith Kelsall, who lives with his family on Ravenswood Road, heard police sirens about 8am on Saturday, and officers then knocked on the door to ask them to leave because of the potential slip.

"We got the kids up and organised, grabbed a few things and we were out within about 10 minutes," he told Morning Report.

About 10 minutes after they left, the slip came down between the side of his property and the neighbours'.

"The neighbours' garage bore the brunt of that.

"In reality, while at the time everything seemed absolutely fine, I think timing-wise [it was] perfect for getting out - with what could have been much worse."

Slip at Ravenswood Road, St Clair, Dunedin.

One of the cars shunted down the hillside in the landslip. Photo: Supplied / Keith Kelsall

A vehicle parked beside a neighbour's home was pushed through the garage of a house next door.

Mr Kelsall was allowed back home in the afternoon, and said most others were also back in their properties.

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull said the council was waiting for a geotechnical assessment on the St Clair slip.

"It's a very big slip and we are concerned about whether that's the end of it or whether it will continue moving ... And that's the case with slips all over the Otago Peninsula."

In the meantime, the council was advising residents to take precautions such as not going into their back yard if there was a risk of anything further falling.

South Dunedin

South Dunedin escaped flooding as severe as in June 2015, which damaged hundreds of properties, because less rain fell and over a much longer period, Mr Cull said.

In 2015, in the suburb of Musselburgh, 142mm of rain was recorded in one day compared to 97mm South Dunedin over a 36-hour period in the latest winter storm.

"We could pump it out quicker than it fell this time. We couldn't last time."

A torrent of mud is coming from a driveway on corner of Ravenswood Road and Cliffs Road, St Clair. Police have evacuated a number of houses around a bank that is at risk of collapse. Other families are leaving the area.

Mud pouring over a driveway on the corner of Ravenswood Road and Cliffs Road, St Clair, on Saturday. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

The slip at Ravenswood Road, St Clair, Dunedin.

Vehicles were pushed down the slope by the Ravenswood Road slip. Photo: Supplied / Keith Kelsall