Landslide in Lower Hutt suburban street a ‘huge disaster’

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10395137

A landslide which slammed into a garage and left at least one Lower Hutt house on the brink of slipping away has been described by the city’s mayor as a “huge disaster”.

Four houses in suburban Kelson were evacuated last night after one slid down a hill, threatening the three others.

Hutt City mayor David Ogden visited the site this morning and said it was a “huge disaster for the people here”.

“When you get this amount of rain, you’re going to get land movement,” he said.

One of the homeowners, Peter Pritchard, said a neighbour saw a small slip at about 8pm and banged on their door.

“We went out to look on the backyard and saw a large piece of land go,” he said.

He and his wife, son-in-law and three grandchildren are now staying with neighbours and friends in the meantime.

“There is not much we can do except wait.

“We can’t think much about it now and I don’t think we’ll realise for a while just what’s happening. The question is, where is it going to finish?”

Mr Pritchard has lived in the house for 40 years and said he had lost a third of his land and most of his backyard into the gully.

“It’s like something you’d see in the movies.”

Resident Jill Adcock, who lives three houses down from Mr Pritchard, was one of many to look at the scene this morning.

“It’s pretty frightening. I just wanted to see if my house was in danger.”

Acting Senior Sergeant Eric Tibbott said police were alerted to the slip about 8.30pm after a day of steady rain.

The evacuated houses were all in Vista Grove which along with neighbouring Levin Grove, had been cordoned off and were accessible only to residents, Mr Tibbott said.

Many of the houses in the area were built into the bedrock, and backfill near the affected homes was believed to have moved as a result of the rain.

On July 21, Hutt City Council emergency response team evacuated about 30 people in the seaside suburb of Eastbourne after a landslip caused an unoccupied house to shift about 1.5m from its foundations.

– additional reporting: NZPA, NEWSTALK ZB

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