Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

North Canterbury town of Scargill takes worst of last night's 5.7 earthquake damage

The tiny North Canterbury township of Scargill has taken the brunt of last night's severe aftershock, which left broken chimneys and collapsed walls. Some houses may be write-offs.

The 5.7-magnitude jolt rattled through the Scargill valley as many families prepared dinner.

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A historic limestone homestead is feared damaged beyond repair.

The community hall at Scargill has lost an outside wall.

Houses have lost chimneys, walls are cracked and water tanks tipped over. Contents have tipped off shelves.

A frightened Bryn Davies slept in his car after last night's left his home looking like a grenade had gone off in every room. Photo / Kurt Bayer
A frightened Bryn Davies slept in his car after last night's left his home looking like a grenade had gone off in every room. Photo / Kurt Bayer

Bryn Davies, 64, slept in the back of his Ford Falcon stationwagon after the quake ripped through his Scargill home.

He was outside when it hit. He gripped a car-port post and struggled to stay on his feet.

Today, he showed the Herald through his damaged home.

"Every room looks like a hand-grenade has gone off," he said.

Now, he wonders whether he should stay in shaky Canterbury.

"Yesterday has damaged me. I'm now a prickly ball of nerves."

His brick chimney is badly damaged, shelves emptied, furniture tipped over.

For 30 years, he had gone without a TV. But he bought one last week. Today, it sits broken on the floor among the other quake debris.

Alison and Darryl Lewis, and 3-year old Rebecca, were getting dinner ready when the quake struck.

Darryl and Alison Lewis fled their Scargill home with their 3-year old daughter Rebecca. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Darryl and Alison Lewis fled their Scargill home with their 3-year old daughter Rebecca. Photo / Kurt Bayer

They fled outside when a second wave of shaking knocked them off their feet.

"I've never felt anything as strong as that," Darryl said.

Alison said: "It was like an explosion going off."

The shaking ripped their log burner out of the wall.

The oven has shuffled 1m from the wall.

"The way the house was moving, I thought it would collapse," Darryl said.

"We have overall got off very lightly."

Up the road, Roly Regan surveys his damage.

He got home at midnight to find his home tipped upside down.

His chimney is broken and water tank balancing precariously at the back door.

In last Monday's magnitude 7.8, two jam jars fell over.

"This has been much, much worse for us here."

Lizzie Hay and her sons, McGregor, 3, Sam, 6, and Ben, 8, pitch a tent after their house was damaged in last night's aftershock. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Lizzie Hay and her sons, McGregor, 3, Sam, 6, and Ben, 8, pitch a tent after their house was damaged in last night's aftershock. Photo / Kurt Bayer

Lizzie Hay and her sons, McGregor, 3, Sam, 6, and Ben, 8, this morning pitched a tent to give them shelter from the hot day after their concrete Scargill home was badly rattled in the shake and suffered some cracking.

The Hay family spent last night in rented accommodation. They, along with many others in the district, are today waiting for building inspectors to check their homes.

Many are afraid to spend another night in their homes until experts give them clearance.

Others are worried about rockfall and damage to farm water pipes.

Meanwhile, a total fire ban across the quake-stricken Hurunui District came into force today.

The area has had a drought for more than two years.

Recent rain has greened up pastures, but this week the mercury is soaring and more nor'west winds will brown the land quickly, farmers fear.

Deputy principal fire officer Gary Millar said the fire ban is in place because the quakes have put a strain on personnel and equipment.

"We have our resources out helping with the quakes and could really do without fighting fires," he said.

- NZ Herald

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