Scary slip sets off night­mares


‘‘I glanced out of the corner of my eye and thought gosh, that tree's mov­ing, then 10 me­tres worth of mud and trees came crash­ing down.’’

A Porirua mother has been suf­fer­ing night­mares af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing land­slip threat­ened to wipe away her fam­ily’s prop­erty.

Sarah Cot­ton and her chil­dren have gone back into their hill­side home above Cluny Rd in Plim­mer­ton, but at least one neigh­bour­ing prop­erty re­mains un­oc­cu­pied since two ma­jor slips came down on Au­gust 14.

Res­i­dents at an­other have been told to keep out of a sec­tion of their gar­den.

Cot­ton was just about to pull into her garage at about 7pm on Au­gust 14, when she felt the full im­pact of the land­slip slam into her 1996 Honda Odyssey, which the fam­ily has al­ways called Hal­lelu­jah.

‘‘I was just turn­ing, and I glanced out of the corner of my eye and thought gosh, that tree’s mov­ing, then 10 me­tres worth of mud and trees came crash­ing down.’’

There was a bang, and a flash like light­ning, as a tree smashed through pow­er­lines.

‘‘The most fright­en­ing thing was the sud­den move­ment of the car, then the slam­ming into a fence.

‘‘Then dark­ness and the sound of rain on the roof.’’

Her neighbour in a car be­hind was in shock, star­ing at the slip. She even­tu­ally called emer­gency ser­vices. Cot­ton did not suf­fer any se­ri­ous phys­i­cal in­juries, and Hal­lelu­jah was also un­scathed, but she has last­ing fears about get­ting in the car and driv­ing past the slip, ‘‘even though Porirua City Coun­cil geotech guys say our land is safe’’.

‘‘I’ve had a cou­ple of dreams where I think I’m slip­ping. I sleep down­stairs so I would be the first to go.’’

Her 10-year-old daugh­ter, Olivia, had been home for about five min­utes when the ‘‘mas­sive slip next door nearly made our house fall down, and we had to evac­u­ate’’.

‘‘And my mum nearly got squashed by a tree, which fell down by her car while she was in it.’’

Cot­ton and her three chil­dren, along with four-month-old kit­ten Jazzy, stayed at the chil­dren’s father’s house while wait­ing for coun­cil staff to give them the all­clear to re­turn.

The coun­cil is aware of 48 large slips since the earthquake and flood­ing last Novem­ber, which have cost it $3.2 mil­lion in cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture and $540,000 in op­er­at­ing ex­pen­di­ture to clean and re­pair.

In Porirua’s north­ern sub­urbs alone, the coun­cil is work­ing on re­pairs to more than 40 large slips. ‘‘We’ve pri­ori­tised re­pair­ing slips that have im­me­di­ate im­pact on peo­ple, where they are com­pro­mis­ing a prop­erty or ma­jor road,’’ chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Tam­sin Evans said.

‘‘It will have been dis­tress­ing for those in­volved and we are pri­ori­tis­ing the work, where pos­si­ble, so peo­ple’s lives can get back to nor­mal.’’

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