The displaced of Christchurch were last night in makeshift shelters across the city, fearful of waking up again to the violent tremors of the night before.
They came from shattered homes across the quake-ravaged city in the hope of finding running water and a safe place to bed down for the night.
Welfare centres at Burnside High School, Linwood High School and Addington Raceway provided food and shelter for many.
But, without official evacuations in place, most took to relatives’ houses and acquaintances out of town to find lodgings.
Mariel Delos Santos and her family left their home on Waitaki St, a road completely submerged after flood waters rose all day from a broken water main spurting like a fountain.
“Everyone on the road is evacuating,” Delos Santos said. She could not take the chance that water would spill into her house overnight.
And, after her experience early yesterday morning when frightened neighbours flashed their cellphones into each other’s homes to check for signs of life, leaving seemed more attractive.
She waded through knee-deep water carrying essential belongings in bags to a relative’s home.
Earlier, more than 200 people filed into Aranui Primary School to fetch clean water drawn from a well.
Families arrived with buckets, bowls and any sort of bottle they could find to carry home clean water to drink, wash and – although against advice – flush their toilets.
Jacob Schriek was there with a thermos to fetch water to cook with. Schriek and his wife spent most of the day without electricity and still had no water.
He said their street had become deserted.
About 30 people sought shelter in Linwood College’s sparse auditorium.
Among them was Jill Weston, her husband Peter and their six children aged three to 15.
The family were resting on mattresses but had taken provisions packed into one suitcase. They also had a box of medical supplies.
“I don’t think we’re going to sleep much in here, we’re still pretty wound up after today,” Weston said.
“There were too many aftershocks and every time the kids cried and screamed. At least it’s solid in here.”
The Weston’s home in Hills Rd had cracks in the walls from floor to ceiling inside and outside.
Carole Price was one of the lucky ones. She had no water, no power and her house had jolted a foot off its foundations. But at least she had a caravan to spend the night in.
Hundreds of others left their cold, dark homes overnight to find shelter.
As night fell in Kaiapoi, 10kms north of Christchurch, Price waited eagerly for power to relight her devastated street. Silt had gushed out from the ground, breaking up sealed roads and swamping houses.
Electricians continued to work on felled power lines into the night, after the road was closed off to the public. They had told some residents the work would take half an hour. Three hours later, they continued to work, even in the bitter cold.
Price was shaken by an unreal, unbelievable day. She had been woken up yesterday morning by a shaking and a racket like a chainsaw in her ear.
She immediately fled under a door frame. Her husband lifted their bed on its side, fully expecting the roof to fall.
Christchurch City’s emergency welfare manager, Claire Milne, said accommodation was being sought for people left without a home to return to. But it could take a long time yet, Milne said. “It’s still early days to even know the extent of the damage in some of the areas.”