Kingston Landslip: Agencies Work to Help Homeless Residents

2 June 2013

Kingston landslide.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says City Council building inspectors and welfare staff are working as quickly as possible with other agencies to help about 35 residents left homeless after yesterday's big landslip below Priscilla Crescent in Kingston.

Building inspectors have been working with staff from GNS today to check the stability of land around the slip - with the aim of getting as many families as possible back into the houses evacuated early yesterday morning.

Mayor Wade-Brown says eight houses are still off-limits today but that it is hoped an all-clear could be given for some to be re-occupied by the middle of the week.

"I've been told that there has been no significant ground movement overnight - however the experts have to take a cautious approach - especially with rain forecast in the next few days."

"Unfortunately three of the properties at the top of the slip are in a precarious state, with parts of their foundations undermined. It is considered too dangerous to even enter the houses. The Council will be working with GNS, EQC and insurers over the next few days to determine how to deal with the houses."

Mayor Wade-Brown says the Council's welfare staff are working with the Salvation Army and other welfare agencies to help the people left homeless.

"About half of the residents have been able to find accommodation with friends, neighbours or family and we have provided motel accommodation for a number of the affected people."

Council staff are keeping the residents updated on developments - and are also contacting Housing New Zealand, Work and Income and other agencies to arrange help for those residents who yesterday had to escape from some of the houses without extra clothing and other essentials.

Mayor Wade-Brown says a number of the residents were living in rented accommodation and so the Council's own City Housing staff will work with Housing NZ to look at possible long-term accommodation if they cannot go back to the homes in Kingston.

Mayor Wade-Brown says: "We're all proud of the way that staff from the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office swung into action yesterday along with a large number of staff from the Council and Capacity, contractors and volunteers, together with Police and the Fire Service. Neighbours and officials worked well together to help the affected residents."

"These residents had a very frightening awakening yesterday and it was good to see people arrive quickly to help them out.

Meanwhile Mayor Wade-Brown says it's too early to pinpoint the precise reason for the landslide. Rumours it was caused by a water main burst or leak on Priscilla Crescent itself are unfounded.

A sewer main and a stormwater main crossed the slope that has slipped below the houses - and up to 50 metres of the mains has been carried down the hill and destroyed. "It is not clear whether the shifting slope fractured the pipes or whether leaks in the pipes could have saturated the slope. This issue will obviously be central to any investigation into the landslide - but given the damage the original cause may never be found."

A temporary sewerage line has already been laid to replace the wrecked sewerage main. Security guards are also now keeping a watch on the unoccupied houses.

The bottom of the slip covered the popular City-to-Sea walkway. Diversion signs have been put in place.