Resident knows power of storm-tossed seas

TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 22/06/2013
Graham Paterson
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ
FAMILIAR SURROUNDS: Graham Paterson, 79, from Breaker Bay, was in the middle of the storm that passed through Wellington.

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Graham Paterson was born in a house facing the brunt of Wellington's southerlies. Seventy-nine years later he still lives in the same Breaker Bay home on Wellington's south coast, facing towards the Cook Strait.

He was in the house in 1968 when the Wahine ferry struck Barrett Reef in one of the most brutal storms in Wellington's history, and he was there for Thursday night's storm.

"There's been other storms but not as much damage as what has been done now," he said yesterday.

"You can't stop the sea - it's one thing you can't stop. Once it's made an approach to demolish something, it will."

As a high tide combined with pounding waves early yesterday morning, boat sheds on the beach were washed away, Breaker Bay Rd was strewn with debris, and the shell of a broken boat was washed on to the beach.

"It's a big force of waves coming in," Mr Paterson said.

While this week's storm was more damaging, he said it was hard to say which storm was worse - the Wahine storm or this week's.

More damage was caused on land by this week's storm, but "there's nothing coming up the drive this time".

As with the Wahine storm, his own house survived this week without damage.

Worser Bay Life Saving Club chairman Grant Rae said beach-level gear sheds had doors smashed in by waves and logs.

"Some of the doors were rammed [seven to eight metres] to the back of the gear shed."

Doors were in the same spot during the 1968 storm, but that time withstood it.

Paddle boards and skis had been washed out of the shed, some flipped by the wind to neighbouring properties.

"We understand there has been some total loss of equipment, with some items damaged beyond repair."

The club was insured and should be operating by summer.

Des Britten, who lives in Island Bay, had a hole blown in his fence this week. He was living in Strathmore, near Wellington Airport, during the Wahine storm.

He remembers during the 1968 storm driving past the airport and seeing the fence strewn with corrugated iron that had blown off nearby houses.

"Wahine, I thought it was slightly worse."

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- The Dominion Post

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