Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Inside the quake: 'It started to shake like anything'

Did you feel the quake? Send your story, photos or video here.

Kyle Woods, Newtown

Cameraman Kyle Woods was about 10m from his car on Featherston St in central Wellington when the quake hit.

He watched as material from the building above his car fell and smashed the top panel of his sunroof. Concrete pieces also caused damage to the passenger side of his black Mitsubishi four-wheel-drive.

"I just watched it all [from] the footpath," Mr Woods said.

He had been walking back to the car, which was parked near the Johnston St intersection, from TSB Arena when the jolt occurred. The 21-year-old said he had been told by his insurance company to stay with the vehicle until staff arrived.

The council had cordoned off the footpath and road surrounding the damaged building and Mr Woods' car. It was scattered with broken glass and pieces from the damaged building.

Mr Woods last night began helping with the clean-up on Featherston St after borrowing a broom from a nearby Subway shop.

"They really need to close it down to one lane," he said as motorists drove over broken glass on the road.

Mr Woods said he had already tried to have his car towed from the area, but the tow-truck driver said debris needed to be cleared from the road first.

Dilip Lala, Kelburn

Dilip Lala was left with a big clean-up after the quake turned his Kelburn supermarket upside-down.

The aisles in the Four Square store were completely filled with products knocked off the shelves by the massive shake, with cracked wine bottles flooding the rear of the shop.

"It just started to shake like anything, so I grabbed the missus and went under the door.

"We've been here 25 years, and that's the biggest one by a mile."

The supermarket's CCTV footage showed customers running, moments before the building was shaken violently, emptying the shelves' contents on to the floor.

Mr Lala, 50, said four or five customers had been shopping and most of them ran out the door on to the street, one of them screaming.

"They were a bit shaken up ... we all were."

He had expected to be closed for at least a day, but his brothers, sons and other family turned up to sweep the floors and stack the shelves.

"We managed to open up again within three hours. We weren't going to open again, but all these people turned up wanting batteries and water. They were panicking a bit."

Mr Lala said he did not want to think about how much damage had been caused.

"We've lost a few good wines ... that's for sure."

Frank Jimmy, Seddon

Cracked walls and burst water pipes sent a group of frightened Vanuatuan vineyard workers to a Seddon welfare centre last night.

The Awatere Rugby Club was turned into a welfare centre after power outages in the town.

Frank Jimmy, 24, said yesterday's earthquake damaged the Seymour St accommodation used by himself and 15 colleagues.

"It was terrifying. I have never been in an earthquake like this. This one was big and strong," he said. "There were cracks in the wall and around the house and the hot water burst."

The group have been working in local vineyards for three months.

"We are just hanging on and getting ready for whatever happens next."

Marlborough Emergency Management officer Gary Spence said the welfare centre was set up after widespread power outages.

"As a precaution while the power was off, we activated the welfare centre and at this stage we have some displaced people here and as soon as their houses are checked they will be back to their accommodation.

"They are very upset and frightened. They are not used to this sort of thing back in the islands so they just need some reassurance."

He said only a few streets remained without power in the town late last night.

Patricia Devenoges, Thorndon

When the quake struck, Patricia Devenoges found herself stuck on the top floor of a shaky building.

Her Aitken St apartment complex was evacuated after the tremor cracked some of the walls and set off the sprinkler system, causing water to pour through the ceilings and hallways.

With the elevators off-limits after the tremor, Ms Devenoges - who is in a wheelchair - was left helpless on the seventh floor.

"At first it was a little shake, and then a real jolt, and everything fell down. I had to wait under a doorway while the building kept rumbling away. I just waited, and waited ... I couldn't leave.

"I'm from the Bay of Plenty, where it shakes all the time, so it wasn't all that scary.

"But my neighbours were scared, they were crying."

She asked her neighbours to find her help, and waited. After an hour, four firefighters arrived and took turns to carry Ms Devenoges down the seven flights of stairs.

Fire Service station officer David Miller said there were cracks throughout the building, and some water damage.

More than 30 people were evacuated from the complex, and firefighters urged tenants to find alternative accommodation.

"I've nowhere to go," Ms Devenoges told her fellow tenants gathered on the street.

"My parents said they can come and get me, but they're in Tauranga."

April Ferrino, visitor, Austin, Texas

Texas native April Ferrino was in her fifth-floor flat on Lambton Quay when the jolt hit.

Ms Ferrino, who is visiting New Zealand on a fellowship from Austin, said the evening quake was terrifying.

"I'm from Austin, Texas, so we're used to other natural disasters - tornadoes, hurricanes.

"But earthquakes are extremely terrifying because you can't predict them."

Not knowing when they were going to hit was one of the worst things, she said.

As items from her bathroom cabinet began falling, Ms Ferrino said, all she wanted to do was leave the building.

"It was extremely terrifying. Things actually fell off the shelves in my flat.

"I felt the first tremor this morning, which was a slow rumbling ... but this one was a jolt."

Ms Ferrino, who was huddled with other residents from her building on the footpath, said once things had settled down she would return to her flat and pack an emergency bag "to run away with", in case a larger, more serious tremor hit.

Ms Ferrino said she arrived in New Zealand in January and is due to stay until September.

- additional reporting APNZ

- NZ Herald

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