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Inspectors yesterday handed out verdicts on whether families were safe to stay in their homes.
A health officer and building inspector worked in tandem in Avonside to check on houses and their inhabitants.
Rod Whearty, from the Christchurch City Council, spoke to residents in doorways while Ray Bremer, who had come up from the Dunedin City Council to help, quickly checked structures for serious damage.
Mr Whearty asked the householders questions about their health and welfare.
"Do you have good social networks? Friends and family who could support you?" he asked Terrina Osborne, who lives in her small house with a flatmate.
"Yeah," she said - like all the others.
"Are you all right for food? Do you have money budgeted for food?" Mr Whearty said, following a checklist.
"I think so," Ms Osborne said.
Ticking off the checklist went on for 20 minutes.
Mr Bremer had finished his inspection in half that time, putting a green sticker on Ms Osborne's door to mark that the house was safe to stay in.
"All of them have problems but most are liveable, " Mr Bremer said.
"But the denial is wearing off, and I can sense anger about to break out soon."
The day before, he was in devastated Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch.
About one in 19 houses inspected there were deemed unsafe to stay in.
Signs of recovery were evident, as workers tried to patch up roads warped like speed bumps.
Black seal was poured in hollows, creating rare spots of flat surfaces.
Heavy machinery continued to scoop sludge off footpaths and driveways.
But access to water was lost again in Wednesday's big aftershock, so a truck crept along the street to give out water that could be drunk if boiled.
The inspectors handed out green stickers - but for many of the families, it was only a brief respite before the pain set in again.
A green sticker could not reassure a mother of three that her family were safe.
"I would be fine if the ground just stayed still," said Helen Crighton, whose daughters are aged between 5 and 10.
"We're pretty bad. I'm just really scared and I've got children as well and they're scared," she said.
Tears welled up in Mrs Crighton's eyes as she sorted through water-damaged files.
"We've just got a green sticker. It's still liveable - at this stage."
She was still rattled, but she had no intention of leaving.
"We're all going to stay put and live it out," she said.
Staying outside made aftershocks feel smaller, she said, and her 5-year-old was good moral support - she did not think of aftershocks as earthquakes, so she found them merry.
"It's just not knowing what's going to happen, and no one can tell you," Mrs Crighton said.
"You think, what more can be thrown at us?"
Her house's doors had been bent, and they could not be secured.
"That's the worst thing. Our front door is jammed shut. The back door opens but it won't lock.
"It's scary - not that we've got a lot to steal."
'THE CRACKS KEPT GROWING'
Lisa Booth fled her house on Wednesday after seeing cracks on her walls and ceilings getting worse.
An aftershock that morning, which broke her house's water lines again, was particularly damaging.
A clean crack runs through the middle of Mrs Booth's living room where a wall had been knocked down during renovation.
She fears it could still collapse on her.
"We were all right at first but the cracks just kept growing," she said. "So we decided it was time we had to leave."
At her house yesterday were Hadas and Ronnie Livne, who Mrs Booth looks after as a nanny and who had insisted on a quick visit to the damaged house.
Hadas, 6, said she wanted to get back to school.
"I got all dressed up with pleats and school uniform but no one was there," she said.
"It was opening up on Monday. Shame. Sometimes I miss school."
The earthquake was scary, Hadas said, but yesterday she was chatty and in good spirits.
"I had to go under the blanket. It was kind of scary. I didn't scream though," she said.
"I didn't know how an earthquake felt. It was the first time in my life. Not even a little one has happened in my life until this one. A window got sort of cracky."
Hadas said she had helped to clean up her house by squeezing through a blocked door and clearing fallen tiles.
"They were very heavy. There were also two bookshelves falling and one missed Ronnie's bed because it was really close," she said.
"Ronnie was near a window so we were lucky it didn't crack really bad because it could have cut Ronnie, but there were also curtains too."
A NEW HOME DESTROYED
First-time homeowner Nicola Jennings was devastated that her house may be beyond repair.
"The house is touch-and-go whether it's going to be bulldozed or not. It's safe to live in but the floor's gone," said the Burnside High School teacher.
An engineer told Mrs Jennings that the ground underneath the house was not flat any more, and it would be tricky to put right.
"It was our first house. We just finished it - just finished the deck, painted inside and out, and I was just about to do the garden.
"The thought of bulldozing it is .." Her voice went soft as tears welled up in her eyes.
Her colleagues had been called back to school yesterday, but she told the bosses she was in no state to go in.
"It's definitely not fun any more. There's no novelty now," Mrs Jennings said, as she collected water in plastic bottles.
"I still have $60,000 left on the mortgage. I've lived there for only 2 years. It's all good for them whose houses aren't falling down," she said.
"I just have to try and be positive. We're okay. The house didn't fall on our head. Other people have had to nail their door shut and leave."