A storm lashed Marlborough today as residents tried to make a start on repairing damage from the violent 6.6 earthquake that rocked Seddon yesterday.
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman was to be at the welfare centre at Seddon School today to reassure people sheltering there.
Gerry Brownlee, the minister responsible for the Earthquake Commission, planned to visit today along with the region's MP, Colin King, who was at the centre last night with his wife Lynnette.
Members of the community were helping protect homes with broken windows and damaged roofs from rain and wind, using plywood and tarpaulins, as well as checking chimneys. The storm whipped up early this morning.
Council building inspectors were in Seddon checking buildings in the township, a council spokeswoman said.
Ensuring that damaged homes were still habitable and weather-tight was one of the key jobs for Seddon today. Damage has been reported to roofs, windows and chimneys, she said.
Residents were told some assistance might be possible for weather-tightness and small repairs so homes were liveable, but non-urgent or major repairs needed to be reported to their insurance company and EQC.
Motorists were warned that while State Highway 1 was open from Blenheim to Seddon, extreme caution was required. Roads were still closed south of Seddon.
One Seddon woman had a lucky escape as the doorway she was standing under started to collapse, and then a chimney came down in front of her as she ran outside.
Laura Jean Kerslake said she was alone in the house at the time and was in bed having a nap when the quake hit at 2.31pm "all of a sudden, before I even had time to think about it. It was just unbelievable, really", she said.
"The whole house, I could just see the walls cracking basically in front of me, I stood in the doorway and half of the doorway was collapsing so then went into the kitchen and then ran outside, and then the chimney . . . came down right in front of me."
Another chimney at the other end of her 130-year-old home had also come down.
"All inside is basically a write-off," she said. She was "very lucky" not to have been hurt.
The constant aftershocks frayed the nerves of Marlborough residents, with the region cut off to the south by damage to SH1 for much of the day.
SH1 bridges at Needles Creek and Flaxbourne, south of Seddon, were closed due to "extensive damage", the NZ Transport Agency said.
In Blenheim, buildings were evacuated, Stadium 2000 and the public library among them.
Police initially closed SH1 between Weld Pass and Kaikoura due to the dangerous overhangs, slips, large boulders and cracks in the road.
Main line train services were halted.
Blenheim police cordoned off the Forum in the central township and sent all shop owners and staff home after large cracks appeared on a pedestrian flyover.
Police were checking for damaged buildings, and to ensure people were safe. Most Blenheim businesses closed.
Countdown Blenheim was evacuated with shoppers and staff gathered outside. Staff appeared shaken and some were crying. Manager Kaye Wood said the supermarket was closed to clean up the mess.
Marlborough schools and other supermarkets shut, with shopping aisles littered with debris.
The combined colleges ball tonight was cancelled.
Blenheim Airport stayed open, but some flights were delayed.
In the capital, thousands of quake-rattled people fled the city yesterday, reducing traffic to a standstill while many people were stranded in the city after trains were cancelled.
City workers spilled on to Wellington streets after buildings were evacuated or employers told people to go home. The roads around the CBD and state highways quickly became clogged with people trying to make their way home, with some even deciding to walk along the highway.
Passing motorists were stopped by police and told to pack in a few of the thousands of commuters stranded at Wellington Train Station after all trains were cancelled.
Some streets were cordoned off because of damage last night.
There were some reports of more substantial damage to CBD buildings but Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there did not appear to be any significant damage from the shake.
Civil Defence controller Bruce Pepperell said reports of damage were minimal.
"There has been the occasional fire, a little tiny bit of facade damage but nothing much to speak of. The big damage is in people's confidence at this stage."
GNS scientist Kelvin Berryman said yesterday's earthquake swarm appeared to be a "rejuvenation" of the area shaken by quakes last month. "You can anticipate pretty meaty aftershocks with a quake of that strength, so it's not such a surprise that we've had so many since."
About 7500 customers also lost power in Kapiti, Wainuiomata and parts of Wellington city but all were reconnected by 5pm. Water supply was not disrupted and but there were at least 11 gas-related callouts.
- © Fairfax NZ News