Seddon Earthquake 16 August 2013
The force of the Seddon quake was “comparable” to those felt in central Christchurch on February 22, 2011.
Almost every home in Seddon was damaged by the earthquake swarm, which began with a magnitude 6.6 quake at 2.31pm on Friday and continued through to last night with a 5.5 jolt about 9pm – the second biggest of the swarm.
About 50 aftershocks of magnitude four and above rocked the region in the 30 hours after the jolt.
Five people were treated at Blenheim’s Wairau Hospital – four with minor injuries and one with a serious medical condition.
GNS scientist Martin Reyners said that for parts of Marlborough, the peak horizontal acceleration of Friday’s earthquake was estimated at 0.75G near Seddon – comparable to the forces felt in central Christchurch on February 22, 2011.
“So it was a pretty decent shake.”
Badly damaged railway lines at Hauwai. Picture source…..www.stuff.co.nz
In Wellington, the peak force of 0.20G was felt in Karori.
A person taking off in a Boeing 747 aircraft feels a force of about 0.16. A University of California Berkeley report has said that “between 0.1G and 0.2G, most people will have difficulty keeping their footing and sickness symptoms may be induced”.
Most of the damage in Seddon was confined to roofs, brickwork, chimneys and windows, Civil Defence officials said. Preliminary building inspection reports indicated that most houses were structurally sound.
Mayor Alistair Sowman praised the calm response of Seddon residents.
“It has been a ghastly experience for many people and the continuing aftershocks and today’s heavy rain are not making it any easier.
“However Seddon people are typical tough rural New Zealanders and they are getting stuck in and helping each other,” he said.
“It has been a very, very frightening experience for this part of the country sitting right on the epicentre. Fortunately most people have family and friends who have rallied around them but it’s going to take some time for Seddon to recover, not just in terms of repairs and rebuilding, but also for peace of mind to be restored.”
Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee and Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye visited Seddon yesterday to reassure people who had fled quake-damaged homes.
Brownlee said they wanted to hear from residents about anything they could do to help them through this time. “I have a fair idea what you are going through, and how you are feeling,” he said.
State Highway 1 reopened just after midday yesterday, after the 6.6 quake opened up large cracks in the ground and caused big landslips between Seddon and Ward.
NZTA highways manager Frank Porter said contractors put in an “heroic” effort.
An EQC spokesman said it was too early to assess the impact.
“We’ll have a better idea on Monday when we get an idea of the claims that have come in and assessments begin.”
Shake felt ‘More Intense’ than February 22
A day after the big shake, locals in the small Marlborough town closest to the epicentre returned to Ward’s East Coast Inn for a quiet, calming beer.
It’s a stark contrast to the moment the magnitude 6.6 earthquake shook them and much of the country on Friday afternoon.
As Zac Walls recalls: “There were bottles flying everywhere and alcohol being spilt. I never saw so many people run out of a bar at once.”
Stu Orr, who was alongside Walls, said: “About four of us ran out of the bar with pints in our hands.”
The patrons waited until the shaking stopped before heading back inside to clean up.
Walls is in a rare position to give a verdict on the shake. He was in Christchurch for the February 22, 2011, earthquake. Marlborough’s was “more intense [and] the aftershocks have been more frequent”, he said.
Kerry Snell was among the hardy locals back at the East Coast Inn last night to talk over events as aftershocks rolled through. He was working on a fence near the Lake Grassmere Saltworks. “It literally dropped us to the ground. We tried standing, but there wasn’t a shit show in hell.”
He saw parts of the cliff-face collapse into the sea. “It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever seen or felt.”
Snell rushed home to find his chimney “ready to go”, the broken hot water cylinder flooding the house, along with a “fair few cracks”.
About 900 people live in the town, located about 20km from Seddon and 12km from the epicentre of Friday’s biggest quake. “Everyone sort of pulled together and went around and helped each other out. It’s pretty good here.” he said.
“This last year has probably been the worst I’ve ever seen as far as nature goes; it’s sort of thrown everything at us at once and hopefully that’s going to be it,” he said.
Ten-year-old Hunter Orne was waiting in line at Ward School to tell his teacher “something about writing” when he felt the earth begin to move.
“I yelled out ‘earthquake’. My teacher was bawling her eyes out,” he said, before quickly adding: “Well, just about crying. She was panicking . . . she wanted to make sure we didn’t get hurt.”
Sitting with a raspberry and coke at the inn last night, the year 6 pupil said he was “not really” scared.
“There is the concern that a bigger one might happen, but they still won’t harm us because you can’t do anything about them,” Hunter said.
Roof tiles fell and a chimney cracked at Hayden Shadbolt’s home. He rushed to pull tarpaulins over the damage before heavy rain began to fall and was on the roof when a magnitude 6.3 aftershock hit. “That was fun,” he joked.
The 37-year-old has lived in Ward his whole life, but Friday’s shake was the biggest he had ever felt.
“It was pretty fierce, you could say. It was a big sudden jar . . . getting stronger and stronger. I don’t want to feel another one.”
Wellington awaits Christchurch crane
In Wellington yesterday, shops, libraries and pubs were open, a day after a post-quake exodus from the city that left roads clogged and nerves frayed.
All power and water throughout the region was restored, with road, rail, ferry and bus services operating normally.
Lukes Lane was cordoned off pending the demolition of a teetering lift shaft.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the structure had been declared a dangerous building.
Some lift machinery was removed yesterday, but most of the work would have to wait until a big crane arrived from Christchurch today or Monday, she said.
“We need something that is capable of lifting a 30-tonne slab of concrete.”
Council engineers had checked civic buildings and bridges, while some private building inspections were ongoing. There were some reports of water damage, but no further structural damage had yet been found.
Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said its car park had been inspected and was structurally sound.
While there were no obvious signs of damage, the stadium would be checked by engineers tomorrow.
It should be fine for next week’s All Black test, he said.
“It’s purely a precautionary thing. We’re not anticipating any problems but public safety is our number one priority.”