You are currently viewing Landslides cause near misses
A slip in Thornton Bay damaged the back of one home and threatened several more. Photo: SUPPLIED

Landslides cause near misses

An elderly Thornton Bay resident and a truck driver on State Highway 2 had close calls last week following the bad weather from ex-cyclone Hale.

A slip on February 1 caused evacuations of several homes on Thames Coast Rd and Adams Rd in Thornton Bay.

One home, that of 95-year-old Dennis Raines, was red stickered as the slip made its way into his backyard and on to the roof.

His son, Neil Raines, told The Profile his father was at home at the time of the slip but was unharmed. However, the home is now uninhabitable.

“The house was creaking with the weight of debris across the back, it was a metre high against the back ranchslider and that was all smashed in and against the roof,” he said.

Neil said the hill behind the home was always likely to slip due to its steepness.

“I can’t say I was surprised, put it that way, especially with the amount of rainfall and all the other slips around the place,” he said.

Dennis Raines, 95, was at home when his Thornton Bay house was hit by the slip. Photo: SUPPLIED

Dennis Raines, a life member of the Thames Society of Arts, was in his home when a man mowing the lawn next door noticed the slip and ran to get him out. He has since been staying with his family in Auckland.

“It’s going to be a very long, ongoing process,” Neil said.

“Not only has all the mud come into the back of his house, the house up the top on Adams Rd has lost some of its decking and is looking a bit precarious as well so it’s quite feasible that that could slip down on to his house as well.”

Despite the ordeal, Neil said his father was in pretty good spirits and was keen to get back to the coast.

“He wants to get back among his friends down there,” said Neil. “He wants to be independent.”

Neil said the community was quick to rally around Dennis following his evacuation, with offers of housing, fundraisers and general support.

“I would just like to show our appreciation, and his appreciation for all the support and wellwishers from the community,” Neil said, adding that the Thames Society of Arts had been particularly supportive of its life member, as had the Waiomu Cafe.

A few days earlier in the Karangahake Gorge, a similar slip came down in front of truck driver Shane Sattler on January 31.

Mr Sattler told The Profile he was forced to take evasive action to avoid being swept into the river.

“I was just driving down the road and the hill fell down in front of me,” he said.

Shane Stattler was driving through Karangahake Gorge when a slip came down just inches in front of his truck. Photo: SUPPLIED/ANITA SAUNDERS

Mr Sattler watched the car ahead of him speed through to avoid the debris, but didn’t have time to follow. Instead he hit the brakes and swerved to the wrong side of the road.

“There was no chance I was going to get through in time, when you see it coming down the hill,” he said.

“My biggest concern was that car in front of me… I just seen him disappear and I wasn’t too sure if he got collected or not.

“I had to make my way through the trees that were on the road and make sure that he wasn’t trapped underneath it.”

Despite the recent weather and the regularity of slips through the gorge, Mr Sattler said the slip still caught him by surprise.

“For as often as I travel through that gorge, you see evidence of slips but I’ve never experienced one coming down on the road in front of [me],” he said.

“It wasn’t until an hour later that … it must have hit home a little bit. My heart was pounding for the rest of the trip home. It’s the last thing you expect.”

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air