No-one died. It seemed miraculous.
Armies of students cleared silt from roads and driveways, where it had liquefied and bubbled up from the restless ground. Historic buildings were braced with exoskeletons of steel. Roads and drains were slowly cleared. Life in the Canterbury region of New Zealand found a new normal.
People grew used to the murmuring earth. Only aftershocks above magnitude 5 rated a mention, with Cantabrians discussing the sound, horizontal displacement and vertical velocity with the experienced taste of wine connoisseurs.
Six months passed, and then came the big one. Though considered an aftershock, the epicentre was close to the heart of Christchurch, New Zealand's second most populous city, and was far more destructive than the original 7.1 earthquake.
Brick facades fell on the crowded centre city streets. Buildings collapsed, pancaked together. The media shared desperate text messages from trapped students, tearful husbands outside fallen buildings, a five-month-old killed by a toppled television.
He wasn't the youngest.
One hundred and eighty-five people died that day.
It's been three years. The centre of Christchurch is empty, with only scant remains of its iconic cathedral. Lines of orange cones demarcate areas of damage, and of healing. The tide of roadworks rolls through and through the city as the ground settles, creating new cracks in roads hastily patched, and patched again.
Avoiding the cracks is possible, but barely. The effort would consume your life. Best then to do as the Cantabrians have done; carry on, regardless. What option is there?
The 2010 Canterbury earthquake
The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake