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Last modified: 01 Sep 2020 8:29am

A group of adults inspect an earthquake cracked road while children play near it

Ten years on from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck at 4.35am on 4 September 2010, Council Call caught up with then Mayor Kelvin Coe to reflect on the day and its legacy.

“At first we all thought it was the Alpine Fault. We were all expecting the Alpine Fault to go, we weren’t expecting an earthquake down on the flat,” Mr Coe says.

In the dark and confusion of the first few hours he was impressed at how quickly organisations such as the Council Civil Defence team, rural volunteer fire brigade, police and community volunteers sprang into action and worked together.

The scale of the damage became clear during a mid-morning helicopter flight, he says.

“The tear in the ground went from Izone to up past Hororātā. There was damage to the roads, the sewage treatment plant in Rolleston had been knocked out and then there was the houses. You could see the damage in Hororātā where lots of houses had lost chimneys. And over Tai Tapu you could see the liquefaction, you could see these earth volcanoes all along where the liquefaction had come up and then a house and then more liquefaction.”

The community rallied round each other, he says. Farmers were especially quick to work together to ensure cows were milked, silos repaired and people supported.

Then there was a huge effort to ensure buildings were stickered for damage, roads and services reinstated and planning got under way for the huge changes ahead.

Selwyn was already one of the fastest growing areas of the country, but it was clear the earthquakes would accelerate that growth, Mr Coe says.

The Council pressed ahead with major projects such as the Selwyn Aquatic Centre, and Lincoln Event Centre was completed. There has been a legacy of new urban growth adding to and strengthening existing communities, he says.

“Selwyn is now more urban and diverse than we were before but with the damage repaired, lessons learned and remembered, life goes on and we move on too.”