Shovellers tackle 'staggering' amount of silt

10:00 am on 1 March 2011

People from all walks of life are helping to clear what one of them calls the staggering amount of silt piled up on sections and streets by last Tuesday's earthquake.

Compared with September's quake, an estimated five times more silt needs to be cleared. Mayor Bob Parker says the aim is to remove 90% of the 180,000 tonnes of silt by Friday.

A team of 77 Territorial soldiers from the North Island under the command of Captain Dave Readings has been charged with the task of shovelling the silt out of people's backyards.

In Avonside, another group working to clear the streets is made up of people who saw an ad looking for volunteers on TradeMe, while what's being dubbed the Farmy Army - farmers who've come into town to help - has been out in force with shovels and wheelbarrows in some of the worst-affected areas.

One farmer, Michael Morrow, says an immense amount of silt is being hauled out of some residential sections - so much so that in they've been using small earth-moving equipment.

"Some of these standard urban sections have been yielding around 30 to 50 tonnes of silt per section," Mr Morrow says. "It's staggering to see."

The Farmy Army's John Hartnell says bigger piles are easier for diggers to pick up, so he's asking residents to work with their neighbours to make one large pile.

Mr Hartnell says people should also keep their cars off the street to make room for trucks to come through to take the mud and silt away.