15 November Earthquake update: Council Lends a Hand

Latest update 9.33 am:

A number of Council staff are now in the Hurunui and Kaikoura Districts to help our friends and neighbours as the post-quake evaluation and clean up begins.

A big thanks to our building inspectors, who are into their second day assisting their Hurunui counterparts, and to our water unit staff, who are likewise helping in the Hurunui today.

We also have staff heading up to Kaikoura today via the airforce, and expect further team members to be involved as the clean-up in that District ramps up.

Thanks to all of our people for so readily volunteering at short notice to help out.

Latest update 8.52 am:

Here is the current status of the South Island Highways this morning:

* State Highway 1 between Cheviot and Seddon - CLOSED
* State Highway 7 between Waipara to Springs Junction - OPEN (Lewis Pass)
* State Highway 7a between Tekoa Range and Hanmer Springs is OPEN to light vehicles only while further assessment takes place today.

Picton, Blenheim, and Nelson are all accessible from the south via State Highway 7 (Lewis Pass) but please note this will add at least three hours additional journey time. For more information people can call 0800 44 44 49 for updates and the Transport Agency's website and social media accounts will be updated as more information is available.

Latest update 3.39 pm: Civil Defence has cancelled the tsunami warming in place for Wellington to Banks Peninsula. Based on all available data, the tsunami threat has now passed. However, coasts may still experience unusual, strong currents and sea level fluctuations for several more hours.

People are advised to stay vigilant in and around coastal waters.

A boil water notice is still in place if you are on the Ashley, Sefton and Loburn water scheme. This is purely precautionary. Keep an eye on our Facebook feed for updates as the situation progresses.

Latest update 8.46 am: Civil Defence has now downgraded the national tsunami alert to that of a marine level threat to coastal waters and beaches between Napier and Dunedin.

This means that those who evacuated from the Beach-side communities of Waikuku Beach, Woodend Beach and Pines-Kairaki Beach, may now return to their homes.

The two remaining welfare/evacuation centres, at the Rangiora Baptist Church and the Woodend Community Centre, are now closed.

Although the alert has been downgraded, the public are advised to stay out of the water and off the beaches until the tsunami warning has been completely lifted.

It is expected that the waters off the East Coast of the South Island will experience strong currents and unpredictable water flows near the shore for the next little while.

To recap, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck near Culverden in the Hurunui District just after midnight last night.

Much of the damage from the quake, and its subsequent aftershocks, was caused in the Hamner Springs and Kaikoura areas, although further north saw significant damage as far afield as Wellington.

In the Waimakariri, the disruption to infrastructure was minimal.

All council-run water and sewerage systems are operating as per normal.

The Dudley Park and Kaiapoi Aquatic Centres will be open later today.

Some other older buildings in the District will also be checked by inspectors just to be sure that there are no problems.

Council teams will also head further north to assist with evaluation work in the Hurunui and potentially Kaikoura Districts, as the needs arise.

A request has already been made by Hurunui for inspectors to assist with building checks, which the WDC is fulfilling.

It is suggested that residents on the Ashley-Sefton-Loburn water scheme consider boiling their hot water for now as a precaution.

This is the result of similar advice being offered by the Hurunui District Council, with whom they share the water supply.

Hurunui Council staff are yet to check the supply to ensure no damage has been caused.

There were four evacuation centres set up around the District this morning after the sirens were activated in response to the national Civil Defence Tsunami warning.

Council would like to thank all of the volunteers and council staff who assisted, and would also like to praise the attitude and behaviour of all of those who took shelter at the centres.

At their height, the centres, at the Woodend Community Centre, the Kaiapoi Rugby Clubrooms, the Rangiora Baptist Church and the Oxford School, catered for in excess of 500 residents.

While the tsunami warning remained in force for residents of the Waikuku Beach, Woodend Beach and Pines-Kairaki Beach areas until around 8am this morning, the other evacuees were able to return to their homes soon after the alarm was first raised.


Latest update 5.07 am: National Tsunami Warning Civil Defence Update: The tsunami threat has been reassessed at Civil Defence national headquarters and the warning remains in place. It is safe for resident's from all area's - other than Beach front areas - to return to their homes. The ONLY areas for which the warning is in force are the Waikuku Beach, Woodend Beach, and the Pines-Kairaki Beach areas. Those from other areas, who choose to, may stay at Waimakariri District Evacuation Centres until the all clear is given for beach areas.

Latest update: 3.59 am Residents are advised that ONLY the  beach community residents of the Waikuku, Pines- Kairaki Beach areas are required to evacuate due to the national Civil Defence Tsunami warning. ALL OTHER areas are clear fir now. Those evacuating can assemble at Welfare Centres which have been opened at the Woodend Community Centre, the Rangiora Baptist Church in East Belt, the Kaiapoi Rugby Club and the Oxford School hall. Further information will be provided on our website as it comes to hand.

Update: Beach communities only at Waikuku, Woodend and the Pines - Kairaki areas are being evacuated. The tsunami sirens have sounded, as they have in Christchurch, consistent with the Ministry of Civil Defence warning. Centres at Woodend Community Centre and the Rangiora Baptist Church are now open to receive people. If you are in any of these areas, please evacuate now.

A magnitude 6.6 earthquake and a number of strong aftershocks struch near Hamner Springs in the Hurunui District early this mornhing, with follow up aftershocks near Kaikoura.

A possible tsunami threat has been issued by Civil Defence for the entire South Island. People are advised to stay out of the water and stay off the beaches.

All water and sewer services throughout the Waimakariri District are operating.