Engineer monitors slip
Nine Picton families returned to their Wellington St homes yesterday after engineers said a slip on the hillside above had stopped moving.
Heavy rain sent about 200 metres of soil and debris down the hillside on Wednesday, prompting the Marlborough District Council to recommend evacuation of the homes.
Council assets and services manger Mark Wheeler said little rain was forecast for the next few days so the slip should dry out and stabilise. Monitoring would continue after any rain.
The Earthquake Commission planned to send more engineers to give a complete picture of damage to the hillside and how it could be fixed, Mr Wheeler said.
Wellington St resident Gavin Read returned home to find a knee-deep river of sludge covering his yard and lawn. The property's manager organised for a small digger and driver to help clear the muck.
Janine Read said she heard a bang before noticing sludge pouring down the drive about 8.30am on Wednesday and wondered whether that was the slip letting go.
The couple shifted to Picton with an adult daughter and two school-aged children from Christchurch a month ago. Their landlord, who also owned the hillside where the slip started, paid for the family to stay in a motel last night.
Wellington St resident Joanne Lacey said despite being warned by the council of the danger posed by the slip, she opted to stay warm and dry at home rather than evacuate.
Mrs Lacey could not see the slip from her house and only realised how big it was when it was shown on television news last night.
Council operations and maintenance manager Steve Rooney said heavy rain triggered slips in the clay hills behind Picton which threatened homes every five to 10 years.
Amelia Crescent was evacuated in similar circumstances two years ago.
Vegetation had grown over this slip which stabilised, so did not have to be removed.
Debris from the Wellington St slip was caught up in vegetation so properties below should be safe, even in a quake, Mr Rooney said.
Meanwhile, tides will have flushed sewage from Picton Harbour and marina by today, Mr Rooney said.
The sewage overflowed from pumping stations due to be upgraded next year, he said.
The four properties affected by the overflowing sewage were cleaned on Wednesday, including a residential property.
- The Marlborough Express