After the clean-up comes the clear-out. An exodus is under way in parts of the city, even in areas with power and water.
While in much of the west of the city there is little indication of a disastrous earthquake, the reality is markedly different across town.
In areas such as the eastern hill suburbs, some have had no choice but to leave as their streets have been declared unsafe and evacuated. For others with no power or water, camping is okay for only so long.
People are also leaving affected suburbs which do have these facilities, going to friends and relatives in places where the ground does not shake, and where frayed nerves might settle.
My family (sister, brother-in-law, elderly parents) have gone to stay with my sister in Dunedin.
My Christchurch sister's house is in a no-go area on the hills.
They have tidied it, done all they could and now must wait for engineers to decide whether it can be salvaged.
In the Opawa cul-de-sac where my mother's house is one of 11, only three of the occupants have stayed. Liquefaction had its way with the streets but good neighbourliness and volunteers are taking care of that.
The student volunteer army numbers 12,000. A church group carrying shovels turned up in this cul-de-sac where all but one of the occupants are retired and where the oldest are in their 90s. The householders have gone to stay with relatives around the country.
The local dairies are open and have resisted the temptation to put prices up at this time of scarcity.
Acts of kindness and consideration are the norm here in the wake of the quake but there are bad apples too. Burglars have taken the opportunity to target empty houses and so the Herald has agreed to use only first names in this story.
Joan, 75, and Len, 78, are staying. Their son in Wellington had bought them flights to come to him but they have decided there's no place like home. They're pleased, too, that Air New Zealand is letting them use their non-transferable ticket for a later trip.
"If we were up there in Wellington we would probably be worried about what was going on down here," says Len. "It's our home and we have our friends and family around us."
Anne at No. 5 has gone to relatives in the countryside.
Ninety-year-old George at No. 6, a veteran of the Desert War against Rommel, has gone to his son's in Darfield.
Emily has moved in with family elsewhere in the city.
Marlene at No. 8 is with her daughter in Nelson.
Family from Oamaru came on Friday to collect Marie, at No. 11.
Joan and Len, who moved to the city from Wales 52 years ago, understand. They nearly left too. The aftershocks can be unnerving. "I was in the bath the other night and we had one and it was like being at the seaside," says Joan. "I've never had that sensation in the bath before.
"It is a little lonely with neighbours going but we have family around us."
Simon, 79, at No. 1 is staying put. "I've not wanted to go, not really. It's got to stop some time. When it stops shaking, we will be all right."
A friend, Eveline, is staying with Simon. Her house, several kilometres away in Avonside, has silt through some of the rooms. Her boarder, a man with cancer, has decided to stay in the house because it is close to the medical facilities he is used to using.
Aldyth, at No. 3, was on a tour in the North Island when the earthquake occurred. She has been back a few days, has sorted through her broken crockery and crystal and is about to leave to stay with family in Otaki. A niece from Otaki who works for Winz is coming down to help with welfare demands arising from the disaster and will stay in the unit.By Phil Taylor Email Phil