Wellington Quake - news release 6

22 July 2013

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the city and its central business district (CBD) have come through Sunday evening’s large quake relatively unscathed.

Today, after an initial visual inspection by Council building inspectors and engineers, of almost 2,500 buildings in the CBD, about 35 buildings have been identified as externally damaged.

Mayor Wade-Brown says most of the damage is minor - mainly broken windows and cracked or broken masonry - resulting in fallen debris and potential danger to passers-by.

About 12 buildings on Featherston Street - between Ballance and Gray streets - have been barriered-off due to concerns about falling masonry and glass. The masonry and pieces of glass from some older window frames is still falling off the buildings at times.

“We do not want to close Featherston Street to pedestrians and traffic - but people in a hurry through the central city should avoid the street until further notice,” Mayor Wade-Brown says.

Mesh fencing, barriers, warning signs and security guards will keep pedestrians away from the facades of the affected buildings - but it will mean traffic is down to one lane on much of the street and pedestrians will have to ‘zig-zag’ down the street a number of times.

Three major car parking buildings in the central city have been closed by their owners while the buildings are inspected for possible structural damage. They are the James Smith’s car park, the car park on the corner of Tory and Wakefield streets and the building on the corner of Victoria Street and Willeston Street.

This means a large number of motorists who regularly use these buildings should consider how they get to work - possibly by car-pooling or public transport.

Mayor Wade-Brown says a student volunteer army is in the process of being set up in Wellington. “While the damage here is nothing like it was in Canterbury, it is very heartening that our local students are ready to help out.

“It’s run by Ben Guerin - the Facebook page is titled ‘Student Volunteer Army (Wellington)’ - it already has about 330 members.”

The commuter rail services have resumed as of about 1pm today following checks of bridges, tunnels and other rail infrastructure.

All major buildings around Civic Square - including the Town Hall, Council administration buildings, City Gallery and the Central Library - will be open tomorrow.

All Council pools, libraries and community centres will also be open from Tuesday.

Mayor Wade-Brown says the people staffing the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office have appreciated the visits today by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and local MPs Grant Robertson and Annette King.