Mud fills Lyttelton home, residents evacuate

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 12:05 15/08/2012
Daniel Tobin

Press reporter Caroline King talks to a Lyttelton couple whose house has been swamped with mud following heavy rainfall.

Mudslip
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ
HUGE MESS: Harry Peterson and Belinda de Bono have to say goodbye to their Lyttelton cottage after mud swept through due to the heavy rain this week.
Mudslip
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ
BIG CLEAN-UP: Harry Peterson and Belinda de Bono try to salvage what they can.

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A Lyttelton couple hope their historic cottage can be saved after heavy rain caused a mudslip that filled the entire house.

Belinda de Bono and Harry Peterson woke to the sound of rumbling about 11.30pm on Monday as the mud began crashing against the side of their Hawkhurst Rd home.

The mud was up to one metre deep in some parts of the house.

"We heard the rumble down the hill and wondered what it was and thought it was out on the street," de Bono said.

At first, Peterson thought wheelie bins were rolling down the hill, she said.

"Then we heard glass cracking and breaking and thought something was falling through the veranda window," de Bono said.

The couple went around the back of the house to what was their courtyard and found it covered in mud.

"All I could think of was my washing," de Bono said.

They found the mudslip had pushed through the back doors of their home, flooding their dining room.

"But we thought that was it. I just kept thinking, it's not that bad. The insurance will clean the curtains and the carpet. We'll get some mates around and clean it up," de Bono said.

But about 2am the force of the mudslip pushed in the bathroom window "and that's when it all came in", she said.

The couple evacuated and stayed the night with their neighbours.

The force of the mudslip also pushed the boundary fence, causing mud to cascade on to the lower neighbouring property.

"It's lucky it hasn't gone into their house. We're the only ones who copped it," de Bono said.

The couple managed to salvage only a few "sentimental" items before evacuating.

However, they remained optimistic about the incident.

"As long as we're alive everything else we can deal with," de Bono said.

The cottage sustained about $65,000 of damage in the earthquakes, and Peterson said it was "ironic" because just last week they were told repairs would be completed by the end of the year.

They were unsure whether the historic home, which de Bono understood was built in the 1890s and was the second or third oldest in Lyttelton, could be salvaged.

The mudslip caused one of the sides of the house to burst open under the pressure.

"It's gone through a lot - two world wars, a landslip in 1972. We'd love to save it. She's gone through a lot of knocks and come through it. Who knows, maybe she will come through it again," de Bono said. 

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