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County Quake Damage Totals $6.2 Million So Far

October 07, 1987|CARLA RIVERA and JOHN NEEDHAM | Times Staff Writers

Orange County officials Tuesday said that 11 local communities had reported $6.2 million in earthquake damage and that the remaining 15 municipalities were being urged to file damage reports, even if negligible.

Peter Lawrence, program coordinator of the emergency management division of the county Fire Department, said four cities--Garden Grove, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Seal Beach--reported no quake damage.

Damage estimates from other cities were: La Habra--which sustained by far the worst damage in the county--$5 million; Cypress, $600,000; La Palma, $510,000; Santa Ana, $75,000; Huntington Beach, $14,000; Los Alamitos, $9,000, and Placentia, $1,000.

Officials have estimated that damage in Orange County will probably exceed $8 million since the first earthquake, which registered 6.1 on the Richter scale, struck Orange and Los Angeles counties Thursday, killing three people, injuring hundreds more and causing an estimated $137 million in damage to the region.

Caltech seismologists said more than 100 aftershocks have been recorded since that first temblor. Since Sunday, when a violent 5.5 aftershock caused more damage in 20 cities, tremors have steadily weakened, seismologists said. Almost 24 hours had passed without a single aftershock above the 3.0 mark, until 4:36 p.m. Tuesday, when a tremor of that size was recorded, seismologist Nancy Durland said.

"The likelihood of another major aftershock is extremely remote at this point," said Durland, who works at Caltech's Seismological Laboratory in Pasadena.

Aftershocks along the Whittier Fault could continue for as long as a year and will probably recur frequently in coming weeks, but their diminishing power and frequency are good signs, Durland said.

On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors met to formally proclaim a state of emergency as a result of the earthquakes. Board Chairman Roger R. Stanton proclaimed the emergency on Sunday, but county law requires the confirmation by the full board.

The proclamation came a day after Gov. George Deukmejian asked President Reagan to declare Orange and Los Angeles counties federal disaster areas to help the more than 10,000 owners of damaged businesses and homes.

Donna Lucas, a Deukmejian aide, said that although the governor is also considering convening a special session of the Legislature to speed additional disaster relief to quake victims, the call may not come quickly.

"A special session would not be held until the earthquake damage assessment is completed, which will take a while because the after-quakes haven't stopped yet," Lucas said.

In Washington, pressure for a disaster declaration mounted as Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) urged President Reagan to approve the state's request. "We need to move quickly and with compassion to help those who lost their homes and workplaces in this tragedy," Wilson wrote in a letter to Reagan on Tuesday.

Back home, Orange County Fire Chief Lawrence J. Holms told the supervisors Tuesday that although Los Angeles County bore the brunt of destruction, about 500 homes were damaged in La Habra. He also reported "cosmetic damage" to the Sheriff's Department headquarters in Santa Ana, where several cracked walls and fallen plaster were discovered. There is also possible structural damage to an adobe fire station in Cypress.

And in Westminster, 15 miles southwest of the quake epicenter, a Department of Motor Vehicles office was ordered closed for up to eight weeks because tremors have showered the building with asbestos dust.

Holms said that despite public perception, the earthquake was not a major one. He added that California emergency planners are drawing up blueprints to deal with a temblor 100 times greater than Thursday's.

"We just got a sample that got to our attention, and we need to learn from that and continue to prepare," he said.

Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder noted that schools appeared to have drilled students on what to do in the event of an earthquake, but she said that "adults, by and large, don't know what to do."

Hits Close to Home

"Right here in the workplace, right here in our own building (the county Hall of Administration), we don't have the same routine drills or information or awareness of what we are supposed to do."

She said that at the Garden Grove City Hall, "everyone ran out of the building" contrary to expert advice that people duck under a table or get in a doorway.

She urged the supervisors and Holms to explore development of a program to instruct county employees on what to do before the next earthquake.

Supervisor Don R. Roth, who noted that the American Red Cross is providing shelter for people displaced from homes by the earthquake, urged county residents to make contributions to the Red Cross and other relief agencies.

Times staff writers Stephen Braun, Jack Jones, Jeff Miller, Rita Pyrillis, Rene Romo, Curtis Taylor and Ted Vollmer in Los Angeles and Jerry Gillam in Sacramento contributed to this report.

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