Mother-of-two Julie Anderson knew she could never show her two boys she was scared - but inside she was praying the earthquakes would stop.
Two years ago today, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Lyttelton, killing 185 people.
"You don't forget any of them," said Mrs Anderson, who has had a fear of earthquakes since she was a little girl.
Mrs Anderson moved her family to Waimate in June 2011 to leave the destruction and fear behind, but said those memories will never leave her. "It's still quite clear in my head when it hit. I was sitting at the kitchen table on the phone to a friend and it cut out," she said. "I dropped the phone and took off to the back door, which wasn't that far away, and I got to the top step and was hanging on the recycling bin."
The violent shake left Mrs Anderson's legs shaky but there was no time to sit. She had her two teenage boys to pick up.The streets were full of frantic faces and cars making their way through the liquefied earth.
"The schools were fantastic. The teachers were directing us where to go," she said.
Her youngest son, who was at intermediate, knew his mother would be on her way, so focused on helping other students find their parents.
"My biggest fear is earthquakes but I couldn't show that to the children," she said.
Mrs Anderson was settled in Christchurch. It was the place she was going to grow old, until news of continous earthquakes were made public.
"They said earthquakes would be happening for another 30 years. That's the rest of my life," she said.
Mrs Anderson said she chose not to live in fear for the rest of her life and moved to Waimate.
"It was the best move I ever made. I have fallen in love with Waimate," she said. "Within three days I decided this is where I'm going to live."
The family underwent counselling after the earthquakes and regularly talk about them. "There may have been 11,000 earthquakes but what about the ones that don't actually happen but they do happen in your head," she said.
Today also marks the seven-year anniversary of Mrs Anderson's husband's death.
"I always blamed the earthquake on him. I would say, 'You're not the centre of attention anymore,"' she said with a laugh. Mrs Anderson said she feels so safe living in Waimate. "There is huge community spirit here and everyone is so friendly," she said. "It's awesome. I just love it."