Thousands of victims of Thursday's earthquake were being given food, shelter and counseling Friday by the Red Cross and others as state and federal disaster assessment crews combed the Los Angeles area, attempting to determine whether damage is bad enough to seek federal aid.
If federal aid is requested and President Reagan approves it, thousands of victims whose homes, businesses, furniture and other belongings were damaged could apply for one-time grants or loans to replace what was lost.
Until it is known whether the long-term aid will be made available, victims are being asked to seek short-term relief from the Red Cross, which is providing shelter at eight high schools and community centers.
Peggy McGinley, a Red Cross spokeswoman, said 50 to 100 people stayed at each of the eight Red Cross shelters Thursday night and that many were expected to stay again Friday night.
Take Over Gyms
"At the high schools we have taken over the gymnasium areas," she said. "It's not a luxury hotel, but we make them as comfortable as we can."
McGinley said the agency can also provide vouchers to victims that can be used "at the store of their choice" to replace medication, eyeglasses, tools needed for work or even a stove or clothes washer destroyed by the quake.
"If they need a new apartment, we may supplement part of what they need for the deposit if they can't come up with it all themselves," McGinley said.
"These grants are an outright gift from the Red Cross made possible by donations from the American people, not a loan," she said.
However, McGinley said not everyone will qualify for the grants.
She said people who still have immediate needs for food or shelter should telephone the Red Cross, day or night, at 213-739-4543.
There is also immediate help available for certain low-income families, according to county officials.
Carol Matsui, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Public Social Services, said that families who are already recipients of the county's Aid to Families With Dependent Children program can apply for up to $600 in grants to replace broken windows or otherwise repair damage to homes or belongings.
Matsui said AFDC recipients with quake damage should contact their social worker to apply for the grants.
Meanwhile, Tom Mullins, a spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Services, said it will take damage assessment crews "at least a few more days" to determine the extent of quake destruction and to decide whether to ask Reagan for help. Such aid was granted by President Richard Nixon after the 1971 Sylmar temblor.
Liz Brady, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services, said that if a disaster is declared by Reagan, assistance centers will be set up throughout Los Angeles to act as "one-stop shopping centers" for victims who need financial help.
She said the Small Business Administration makes loans to businesses that need to be rebuilt and also will loan money to families and individuals whose homes, or even furniture, were damaged.
People wishing to donate aid to the earthquake victims can send checks to:
American Red Cross, Southern California Earthquake, 2700 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90057.