Wellington quake: 'You could feel it coming'

Jill Crooks and Maggie Crooks hitching rides north because the train network is down. Photo / Isaac Davison
Jill Crooks and Maggie Crooks hitching rides north because the train network is down. Photo / Isaac Davison

Wellington and Marlborough residents have been left shaken by this afternoon's earthquakes:

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Laura-Jean Kerslake, 22, had a lucky escape - she was asleep when the quake struck and had to run from her crumbling heritage home in Seddon.

The 1874 cottage, where she lives with her parents and infant son, partially collapsed in the tremor and first estimates are that it will have to be pulled down from the damage.

Ms Kerslake said that luckily everyone else was out of the house and she managed to get out without being hit by falling debris.

"It was terrifying,'' she said.

***

Jeanette Andreassend was grabbing a quick bite to eat at Blenheim McDonald's when today's big quake struck.

Customers dived under tables but staff made sure everyone was safe before they were evacuated outside.

She returned home to Seddon to find her house had suffered severe damage.

"She's moved off the foundations. I've got broken windows and the whole place is turned upside down. The cupboards are open and everything's come flying out on to the floor. The fire place is all twisted. She's a mess.''

***

Seddon School acting principal Nick Raynor said all the children were safe, uninjured and accounted for.

"We had just started assembly. We had all the kids in the hall - we've got very few tables to get underneath but they were brilliant, they did everything they were supposed to.''

He said they evacuated the children safely after the first quake.

"As soon as the worst one subsided ... we just ushered them out calmly and went to the meeting point.''

The school then sent a group text to parents, assuring them children were safe.

Mr Raynor said he was waiting for earthquake assessors to check over the school.

"There's certainly some superficial damage and things have shaken off everywhere and broken glass, heat pumps hanging off the walls.''

***

Ward resident Denis Burkhart was cowering in the doorway of his petrol station as he spoke on the phone, while the area continued to be rocked by aftershocks.

"There's a lot more damage than the last one a little while ago. It was pretty big. You can hear it coming, it's like a train coming down the tracks,'' he said.

He said a third of a nearby house had broken off and there were numerous cracks in other buildings and roads. A nearby bridge also appeared to have been badly damaged.

Mr Burkhart said the hot water cylinder in his house had blown and leaked water onto the floor.

"And at my brother's place next door, his swimming pool seems to have gone down 200ml or more. And I've got a big crack down the front of my place.''

***

Seddon man Rex Dodson, in his 70s, was on his way home from Blenheim when the first quake struck.

"It's not very nice travelling at about 100km when the big one hits. There were mud and rock slides all over the place.''

Another motorist helped him move a large rock off the road so they could pass through.

Heading through Seddon there were emergency services on the road, people spilling into the street and cars stopped in their tracks, he said.

There were cracks in the road and on the bridge that crosses the Blind River.

Mr Dodson, a former New Zealand Army officer, put out some traffic cones to warn motorists to take the bridge slowly.

When he arrived at his Cable Station Rd home, he found his wooden villa more damaged than last month's big quake with everything on the floor and the power out.

About a third of his neighbour's brick walls had come down.

Mr Dodson put on his hard hat and went into his house to fetch medicine and the essentials before joining his wife Joan, who was "shaken up'' in the caravan on their lawn where they would be spending the night.

"I get the feeling that a lot of this activity is basically directly under where we are,'' he said.

***

Central Wellington worker Jo Miller was on the first floor of a two-storey building when the quake struck. She and colleagues dived under their desks, holding hands as plaster fell from the walls.

"It was a rolling quake, you could feel it coming. We realised pretty quickly it was something big.''

She could see stunned people on the streets outside, but no major damage or injuries.

Ms Miller was in Christchurch for the 7.1 September 2010 quake, and said today's did not feel as strong.

***

Seddon Vineyard manager Garrie Armstrong was on his vineyard when the quake struck.

Asked how the earthquake compared to last month's 6.5 magnitude tremor, he said: "A lot more severe. Obviously a lot shallower. It started off quite gentle and built in intensity. It was quite violent.''

Mr Armstrong was not aware of any injuries but said there were reports of considerable damage around Seddon.

"Land slips and stock in supermarkets off the shelves. Broken windows, that sort of thing.''

He was now at the local school waiting for parents to collect their children.

The pupils were "pretty good''.

"They've been through a bit over the last month.''

***

Hut Valley recruitment consultant Rick Depczynski was on the 7th floor of Prime Property House on Lambton Quay.

"It was pretty horrible, the waiting. Then there was the big jolt. Our office was okay but a couple of offices had things fall over. It was pretty scary.''

After the shaking stopped, Mr Depczynski left the building to meet with his 19-year-old daughter Natalie, who was on nearby Willis St.

"It was so scary, I was all alone,'' Miss Depczynski said.

"Everyone around me was just freaking out.''

Mr Depczynski said he was initially unable to reach his wife in Hutt Valley due to poor phone reception.

"We've spoken to each other [now] and she's fine,'' he said.

She was driving at the time and "thought somebody had backed into her''.

***

Wellington chef Ruth Pretty was packing up her ice cream van when the quake hit.

"It was scary. It was a long rolling one.

"We did notice a lot of people leaving towards the train station. Everyone seems to be going home.''

Her catering company was based in Kapiti and everyone there had to evacuate, she said.

"They felt it bad in Kapiti.''

***

At a hairdressers in central Wellington, customers and staff crouched under the benches while a chandelier swung violently.

In the street construction workers and some pedestrians kept a close eye on scaffolding but there did not appear to be any damage.

Hairdresser Sargon Ishak said he was worried about aftershocks. "I'm expecting another one - something tells me there's another one coming.''

He was cutting a customer's hair when it hit.

"I've got steady hands.''

He had paid heed to warnings about falling masonry in the streets so stayed under a bench inside the salon.

***

Plimmerton mother Bria Hayward was parked in her car at lights with her young baby when the car started to shake.

"It was pretty intense. The car was bouncing around like mad.''

A footbridge over State Highway 1 was moving with the vibrations.

"I would have been mortified if I was on that.''

Ms Hayward said she felt nervous after last month's 6.5 magnitude quake. "But I thought 'I'm okay. I've got my baby in the car'.''

***

Josh Maxwell, a 26-year-old builder, was working on the third floor of a building on Waring Taylor street when the quake hit. He was on a piece of scaffolding on the inside of the building.

"It was a good jolt. The first tremor hit, then there was the second one and I was halfway in [to the building then out].

"I just thought it was a truck going past.''

Mr Maxwell and his workmates streamed out onto the streets, joining many other central Wellington workers.

***

Maria Newfeld and her nephew Temorangi Loader had been waiting in their deck chairs since about 8am.

When the quake hit, Ms Newfeld raced onto the street.

"I want to go home, but I won't,'' she said.

"There are about six bargains I've got my eye on. I'd dodge bricks for that sale.''

***

New Zealand Drug Foundation chief executive Ross Bell said shelves were ripped from the walls at the foundation's Dixon St office.

"We're in a yellow-stickered building with a very bad engineers report so we're all very nervous in these situations.''

He said the office sustained some damage. "The shelves in the storeroom and where all our library files are, the screws came out of the wall.

"We thought they were pretty well secured but it was a decent enough shake to rip the screws out and all the shelves fell down.''

He said the quake felt stronger than the shake a month ago.

"This one was absolutely the worst feeling I've had in terms of an earthquake.

First Twitter reaction:

Kerrin Meek: Felt the earthquake up here in Hamilton. #eqnz

Lucy Walter: That was very scary #eqnz Driving watching power lines waving & car pulled all over the rd

Disco Pritchard: A good wobble on in Otaki. Had to hold the book shelve. Been meaning to screw that to the wall. #eqnz

Dave Salmon: So, that was another fine earthquake. Currently rating it a 6.6. Wonder how screwed up things are down town this time #eqnz

mikeforbes: that was easily the biggest quake i've felt. VERY shakey. house felt like it was wobbling forever. #eqnz

Carol Howard: Wow, really felt that one in Mapua in a big way - long, rumbling. Sending best wishes to all in Welly #eqnz

Gareth Renowden: That was a slow roller of a quake in Waipara - Hold on tight Seddon... #EQNZ

Jody O'Callaghan: Felt seasick, then realised the Press building was shaking. It's still rocking like a ship. #EQNZ

Marcus Figueroa: Oh my. That was very strong. My car was wiggling while driving, I thought one of my wheels was coming off! #eqnz

Where to get help:

Civil Defence Wellington 04 4737363
www.civildefence.govt.nz

Wellington City Council 04 4994444
wellington.govt.nz

Healthline 0800 611116
www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/health-care-services/healthline

Police / Fire Service 111
www.police.govt.nz/about-site/other-sites/111-website

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