Two families forced to leave after massive landslides see their Lower Hutt homes tagged red
KEVIN STENT / Stuff
A large landslide has forced two Stokes Valley families from their homes, which have been deemed unsafe to live in by Hutt City Council.
Two families evacuated after major landslides in Lower Hutt now face an uncertain future, with their homes wearing red stickers indefinitely.
For the Haars, the landslide on Holborn Dr in Stoke’s Valley brought the earth out from under their bridge on July 21, and they fear they may never be able to return. And the Philips lost yards of their turf to another big slip later that same Thursday night – an event they say “will cripple us financially”.
Both homes were evacuated and residents were barred from returning until reports from geotechnical engineers told them if their homes were safe to live in.
Hutt City Council notified families Friday evening that their homes had been given a red sticker for an indefinite period.
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The Philips family home was built by Tim’s mother in the 1980s, before he and his wife Jaime bought it from her 17 years ago. This is where they raised their 13-year-old son.
About 3.5 m of lawn was lost in the slide, which stopped a few meters from the house.
The council estimated the landslide was 33.2m wide and stretched the full length of the hill, Jaime said. The top 3-4m of land belonged to the couple and the rest to the council.
“There is important work to be done to deal with both sides,” she said. “We need an engineer’s report to show we have a plan to fix the slippage and fund this work.”
However, the family had been told by the Earthquakes Commission (EQC) that it would take three months to return with a report for their part of the landslide. The board only took seven days to do the same.
“The three months are going to cripple us financially,” Jaime said, as the family would have to find a place to rent in addition to paying the mortgage and keeping the power on for security and insurance.
It was a hard pill to swallow, she said. “I’m not going to lie, it’s a shitty situation.”
There were ‘glimmers of hope’ though, with Jaime also expecting to lose the house, but it was ‘still sound’ and it was just the ground that needed fixing now.
She plans to write to local MP Chris Hipkins and David Clark, who is the minister responsible for EQC.
Based on Friday night’s conversation with the council, Viv Haar was less optimistic, thinking it was unlikely they would ever be able to return home.
The Haars stayed up until 3 a.m. Friday to move their furniture with the help of friends, who they are now staying with.
He said they were touched by the support they had from the council, friends and family.
Eastern Hutt Rd was also closed on the south side due to slips and has since been reinforced with concrete containers.
The wild weather in Wellington has caused several slides across the region, with Wellington City Council receiving reports of 54 incidents of slides, flooding or downed trees on this stormy Thursday alone.
Stokes Valley residents were invited by council to a community hui at the Koraunui Stokes Valley Community Hub on August 4 at 6:30 p.m.
The hui will focus on recent landslides blocking a section of Eastern Hutt Rd, which have caused delays and traffic disruptions for those who live and work in the valley. The Board will provide a general update on what happened and their plans.
Council chief executive Jo Miller acknowledged it had been a “stressful and inconvenient time” for many in Stokes Valley.
“We have worked urgently to put in place a temporary solution to allow traffic to flow in both directions from Stokes Valley, but there are still significant delays at peak times.”
She said the well-being and safety of the community is her priority and the council wants the community to feel informed. The Council would continue to work with affected owners to provide support.