Christchurch, New Zealand (CNN) -- We drove through the streets of the earthquake affected suburb of Brighton, on the outskirts of Christchurch, and came across a collapsed two-story building where Adele Stokes, covered in dust, was picking though the wreckage, looking for anything she could salvage.
Her relatives had just arrived with their two young sons when the 6.3 magnitude quake struck Christchurch on Tuesday at 12.51 p.m.
Still visibly shaken up days after the quake, Adele looks at the tonnes of rubble that could have so easily have crushed her, her family and friend to death. And if the pub had been opened, as it was due to later that afternoon, Adele says there would definitely have been fatalities.
"It was terrible, it started shaking -- moving from side to side and the walls were caving in. Then the floor dropped. We somehow managed to escape and get the kids out. I don't know how we did it. I really don't."
It was Adele's neighbor Dale Lynn who helped pull them to safety. His house was still standing after the quake violently shook the city, but then he heard the yelling and screams coming from next door.
The air was filled with dust and he couldn't see anything. All he could hear were cries for help. He and his son followed the noise and quickly found them - pulling them all to safety. And other than a few cuts, bumps and bruises, everyone else got out unscathed.
Adele is aware she's lost everything but continues to smile. She knows how fortunate she is just to be alive. Her friend Melissa arrives and gives her a huge hug, repeating over and over again: "Thank god you are safe."
Melissa is a policewoman who lives down the road. She drove past Adele's house after the quake and feared the worst. Melissa says she tried desperately to reach Adele on the phone but got no answer. The two women can now laugh. Adele explains she'd lost her mobile phone in the debris until a friend found it -- banged up but remarkably still working.
Adele has decided to leave Christchurch for a while. With no home, she's taking off in a camper van and heading north. It's been a tough few days but as she walks off carrying just a handful of retrieved possessions, Adele reminds me, she's one of the lucky ones.