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by Rachael Comer

A homeowner whose retaining wall collapsed on to the street after Friday’s wild weather thought it was an earthquake when the fence on the wall smashed on to the street.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said she had just taken delivery of a new kitchen at her Douglas St property and was sitting inside, when she heard a loud rumble about 1.45pm.

“I thought it was an earthquake – it was that rumble noise,” she said.

“It went for about 10 seconds. I put on my gummies and thought ‘I’ll have a look’.”

When she reached the bottom of her driveway she was met by “a sea of yellow and orange coats” and flashing lights.

“I thought ‘What are they all here for?’ and looked to my left and said ‘Oh my gosh’.”

Most of the retaining wall at the front of her property, which she bought two and a-half years ago, was lying in a heap on the footpath and street.

She was saddened to see her brightly painted fence lying across the road.

“I usually take things in my stride, but this has stressed me a bit.”

She was escorted back up the drive by a police officer, who looked around her property with her.

“I said to him, ‘I’m fine here’, but he wanted me to evacuate as he didn’t want to have to come back and get me at 1am.”

She spent the night at a friend’s house and visited the house the next day with Timaru District Council workers.

“The council decided to cut the tree down in front of the house on Saturday as they didn’t want the rain to run under the roots and under the house,” she said.

She was now dealing with the Earthquake Commission (EQC) as the damage was caused by a natural disaster.

The house was on the site of a former quarry, she said.

Since buying the house, which took 10 years to build and was finished in 1962, she had subdivided land at the back of her section.

The house was “safe” and as someone who had bought many houses, renovated them and then sold them, she always thoroughly checked all information relating to them buying them.

“I was never, ever concerned about the retaining wall before,” she said.

She was now awaiting the outcome of the EQC’s findings before she considered what to do.