Dogs barked. Parakeets chirped. In some neighborhoods, the racket was fierce.
For some Southern Californian quake veterans, Tuesday's tremor centered near Palm Springs was a "good shaker" but Stephen Birch of Westminster, who was half asleep when the quake struck at 2:21 a.m., said he ran down the stairs of his home, yelling, "It's a big one. It's a big one."
Audrey Godfrey of La Habra said she awoke before the first jolt hit because neighborhood dogs were making a "horrendous noise." When she went downstairs, she said, she saw her hanging plants and light fixtures swaying eerily in the dark.
Police reported hundreds of calls from anxious residents, seeking information and assurances that the "shaking was over."
Everyone seemed to have a tale to tell about the quake--rattling windows, rocking beds, barking dogs. People shared their experiences Tuesday with buddies at pubs, with police officers and with radio disc jockeys. One radio station instructed its employees to hear out anxious callers "as a public service."
Officials at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station declared a minor alert as a "precautionary measure." But BobKrauch, corporate spokesman for the Southern California Edison Co., majority owner of the power station just south of the Orange County line in San Diego County, said that "this response was terminated following a thorough check of the plant."
The plant suffered no damage, he said, adding that it was built to withstand an earthquake far greater than the one that hit Tuesday morning.
There were no reports of power outages, gas leaks or damage in Orange County, utility spokesmen said.
At Hershel's Deli, a 24-hour restaurant in Irvine, a swaying six-foot stack of glass plates scared a cook and some customers left their meals unfinished as chandeliers swayed overhead.
"We lost some bowls, and we had our neon signs swinging," Hershel's manager Roger Perry said. "We were rocking for about five minutes."
Peggy Randall, a manager at a Denny's Restaurant in Costa Mesa, wasn't at work at the time of the tremor, but she recalled that the experience was . . . "excellent in a waterbed. It was my first (quake), and quite an experience." Numerous burglar alarms were tripped by the quake, police said.
"We had a hundred calls logged on the 911 lines in the 10 minutes right after it," said Jon Johnson, an Anaheim police communications supervisor.
"Most of them wanted to know if there was going to be another one," Johnson chuckled.
Despite reports from Los Angeles of people fleeing their hotel rooms during the quake, Bob Seddelmeyer, general manager of the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, and other hotel managers in the county reported no such exodus.
Only one guest had much to say about the quake, Seddelmeyer said.
"He came out of the elevator this morning--he'd been staying on the 16th floor--and said he was swaying up there and he thought it was the end of the world."
In Anaheim, a store owner who asked not to be identified said she believed that providence had a hand in saving her inventory of religious porcelain statues.
"Nothing is broken. But that's what happens when you sell God's working tools," she declared.
In San Juan Capistrano, cattle rancher Joe Cumio, 47, said that when the earth started to rumble, "It felt like somebody in a truck or a car had crashed into our mobile home.
"So I ran out with my gun naked as a jaybird to see what it was.... There was no damage even though my dogs were barking, so I just went back in to bed."
Times staff writer Jody Becker contributed to this story.