Gathering together in Seddon
Marlborough Civil Defence incident controller Chris Hayles said tonight it was a case of ‘‘hurry up and wait’’ as help gathered at the welfare centre in Seddon.
The priority was checking everyone was safe and encouraging them to gather at the centre in the Seddon School hall, he said as strong quakes continued to rock the area.
His biggest concern was a forecast for 150mm of rain before Sunday.
At first light, the Emergency Operations Centre in Blenheim would stock-take what help was needed to weather-proof homes with damaged roofs and broken windows. Businesses had donated materials, including PlaceMakers which offered plasterboard and trucking companies which had contributed tarpaulins, Mr Hayles said.
Builders, building inspectors and plumbers could be called in.
This was not a Civil Defence emergency but the organisation was playing a leading role in welfare, he said.
‘‘I am the eyes and ears on the ground, with the Red Cross helping.’’
The biggest message was for people to use the welfare centre or it would close.
Twenty-two people will be spending the night at the emergency centre.
Thirty-three people have registered with Civil Defence, advising they will not be returning to their homes tonight although some of them have made their own arrangements for accommodation.
Search and rescue teams have continued to check properties tonight, checking property damage and making people aware of the emergency centre.
Two people were reported to have required medical attention after the quakes, although both were medical problems rather than injuries.
The majority of the houses in Seddon had sustained some degree of damage but most are still habitable, a spokesman said.
State Highway 1 remains closed tonight between Blenheim and Kaikoura.
Roads are still dangerous and driving is not advised, particularly during darkness. The rail bridge in Seddon, for example, has slumped.
Marlborough District Council staff and Civil Defence team members will go to Seddon early tomorrow morning to begin assessing damage and assessing any welfare needs.
Power was restored to all but about 100 customers in the region tonight.
Mr Hayles said community support had been huge.
People were recognising the welfare centre was the best place to be, in a group.
Rural Fire Brigade volunteers barbecued sausages for evacuees and the Salvation Army delivered meals.
Electricity in the Seddon district was patchy tonight with power out around the Blind River area near the epicentre where homes were badly damaged, roads were cracked and covered with rocks and bridges approaches were out.
- The Marlborough Express