19 Aug 2013

Inspections find every Seddon property damaged

9:25 pm on 19 August 2013

Inspections have shown that every property in the town of Seddon was damaged by last Friday's earthquake, and many residents face an anxious wait to find out what it will take to repair their homes.

Eight homes in the town have been red stickered after the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck 10km to the south-east on Friday afternoon.

The roof of a Seddon church has been damaged.

The roof of a Seddon church has been damaged. Photo: RNZ

Resident Maurice Gerritson, whose home was inspected by EQC on Monday morning, says it has been deemed liveable but there is still a lot of damage.

He says every doorway was cracked as the house was lifted by the quake.

Seddon School opened as normal on Monday morning after parents and teachers spent Sunday helping clean up.

Acting principal Nick Raynor says he is advising parents that sending their children back to school is the best way to return to normality.

Elsewhere in town, the supermarket is open but most other businesses and public buildings remain closed and cordoned off.

Council staff believe about a third of Seddon's population has left the area.

The Cosy Corner cafe is among the buildings cordoned off.

The Cosy Corner cafe is among the buildings cordoned off. Photo: RNZ

Radio New Zealand's reporter in Seddon says the town is empty and eerily quiet. Aftershocks have been continuing but their intensity is lessening.

A rural welfare support group says a considerable number of homes in rural Marlborough have also been left vacant after stressed homeowners sought comfort with friends or moved to places they feel safer in the event of another quake.

Top of the South Rural Support Trust spokesperson Ian Blair told Morning Report that community spirit is strong, despite some people facing repairs to their homes for a second time.

Friday's quake caused much more damage than the magnitude 6.5 earthquake in the same area on 21 July.

Mr Blair says farmers also have to take care of routine work.

The Marlborough District Council is urging residents to return to the town so their homes can be patched up in case there are any more large quakes.

Historic building badly damaged

The owner of a historical cob cottage on the outskirts of Seddon says it is at risk of being pulled down after suffering extensive damage in Friday's earthquake.

Oak Tree Cottage - a visitor attraction and popular wedding venue - was badly hit in the quake with two downed chimneys and massive cracks clearly visible.

Nicola Kerslake, who was next door when the jolt hit, is still traumatised by the memories of her daughter being inside the cottage at the time of the quake.

She says she thinks the Earthquake Commission will tell her to pull the building down.

Westpac gets all clear

The Bledisloe Cup test will go ahead in Wellington on Saturday, after Westpac Stadium got the all-clear to re-open.

It closed for checks following Friday's 6.6 earthquake.

New Zealand Rugby's chief executive Steve Tew says it's great news that the stadium is safe and will host a sell-out crowd of 38,000 fans.

Stadium's chief executive Shane Harmon says it's a huge relief to have it confirmed the game will go ahead.

Mr Harmon says the quake damage comprised small concrete chippings and a lot of broken glassware, which will be cleaned up throughout the week.

Mr Harmon says it's the first time a test match at the stadium has sold out.

Wellington deemed safe

In Wellington, the demolition of an earthquake damaged lift shaft in the central city is set to begin on Monday afternoon.

Contractors have been putting a 400 tonne crane together to bring down the dilapidated lift shaft piece by piece.

Preparations are made to demolish the lift shaft.

Preparations are made to demolish the lift shaft. Photo: RNZ

Wellington City Council says people should be able to re-enter surrounding evacuated buildings in the next few days.

There is no official figure of how many buildings in the capital are closed but the Institute of Professional Engineers says the inspection process has been smoother than it was after July's quake.

Wellington Civil Defence manager Bruce Pepperell says there has been anecdotal evidence of a couple of buildings not opening as they wait for a building inspector to become available.

He says there are no concerns about the safety of people who returned to the central city on Monday.

Mr Pepperell says he is confident buildings are safe, with only cosmetic damage apparent.

He told Morning Report things in the central city should be back to normal.

Insurance restrictions

Insurance company IAG says it is reinstating a moratorium on new home, contents and commercial insurance in central New Zealand following the recent spate of earthquakes.

The company, which owns the NZI, State and AMI insurance brands, says the embargo is so it can focus on existing claims and better understand the risk posed by aftershocks.

The moratorium affects the lower North Island south of the Masterton and Kapiti Coast districts, and the Upper South Island north of the Kaikoura district.

A similar embargo was enacted following the July earthquakes, but was largely lifted two weeks later.