Evacuated Lower Hutt residents putting on 'brave face'

Dewi Preece
Source: 1News

A Stokes Valley resident who was evacuated from her family home following weeks of torrential rain is putting "on a brave face".

Behind the brave face, there is plenty of uncertainty and trepidation for Jaime Philips.

"We've been in the house for 17-and-a-half years. Before that my mother-in-law built the house, so my husband and sister-in-law grew up there."

She and her husband Tim have also raised their 13-year-old son at the same family property.

"Trying to have my son understand that we're probably not going to go home. It's hard for him."

Philips spends most of her time volunteering, and helping others. But now it's her family on the receiving end of the generosity of others.

"People that we've never met before have messaged and offered (food & accommodation) and it's been overwhelming and wonderful at the same time."

The slip on their property happened after heavy storms lashed the region last month, closing one of the main roads below.

Following the initial geo-tech reports organised by Hutt City Council, they were advised that they wouldn't be allowed back into their home for the foreseeable future.

The bank is currently supported by cement-lined containers, taking up two of the four lanes of traffic.

"This is obviously a major slip on an important arterial route for our city," said Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry.

The council have offered support to the families affected, including counselling sessions and help with emergency accommodation.

Philips says their accommodation runs out this week, and are having to look at rental properties in the meantime.

They, and the other family impacted are set to attend a hui run by Hutt City Council for Stokes Valley residents on Thursday night, to explain their short, medium and long-term goals to address the issue.

"We want to be really upfront that there's no real quick fix to the situation," Barry said. "We could be talking two, three months to be able to get the road re-opened and safe."

Geotechnical engineer Bruce Simms has been working in Wellington for the past 15 years, and says this is as bad as it's been.

"The last few months has been the most significant slips both in terms of size, and intensity that I've experienced so as an industry we've been busy."

He says anybody worried about the risk of a slip at their property should get a professional opinion.

"It's just part and parcel of living in Wellington in my opinion, hopefully we'll have a break in this rain. It has been very continuous."

Between Wellington and Upper Hutt City Councils, there have been over 100 slips recorded in the past month, with roughly 30 of those deemed significant.