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After the Quake : Monterey Park: Toll Mounts

October 08, 1987|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

Monterey Park officials, who thought last week that earthquake damage in their city was about $10 million, now say the loss is more than $20 million and continuing to climb.

Warren K. Funk, city support services manager, said the damage total is growing as building inspectors take a close look at structures shaken by the quake and its aftershocks and as more homeowners either belatedly report damage or discover new cracks in buildings.

Funk said the city has counted damage to 455 homes, including 33 that are beyond repair and 40 that have major structural problems.

He estimated that 50 Monterey Park residents are homeless.

The damage to single-family houses is scattered through the city, Funk said, but houses built more than 40 years ago were hardest hit.

"We have a lot of chimneys down," Funk said, "and some walls have windows where they didn't have windows before."

Aftershock Hits Condos

A 30-unit condominium project at Garvey and Abajo avenues suffered severe damage. Funk said a structural engineer hired by the condominium management association inspected the buildings and found them habitable after last Thursday's quake, but then the severe aftershock on Sunday caused more damage.

If the units, which are less than two years old, cannot be repaired, Funk said, the loss will amount to $4.2 million.

Also damaged were several units in a group of condominiums on Garfield Avenue.

Funk said 43 businesses suffered a combined $2.2 million in damage. The Monterey Theater, an old brick building where Chinese-language films are shown, suffered $500,000 in damage, according to a city estimate, but Juliana Tu, vice president of Mandarin Realty, which manages the property, said that estimate is too high.

Tu said bricks came loose in the northwest corner of the building, but she believes that the theater can be repaired. If there really is $500,000 in damage, Tu said, the theater will be torn down.

The most heavily damaged business in Monterey Park was Luminarias Restaurant, which sits on a hill overlooking the San Bernardino Freeway.

Fire Chief James Page said a crack in the restaurant's floor runs the length of the building. The floor on one side of the crack is 1 to 3 inches higher than on the other, he said.

Page, who ordered the restaurant closed, said he thought at first that the building would have to be demolished, but engineers hired by the owner are trying to save it.

The damage to city property amounts to $2 million. Half of that is the cost of replacing the Sombrero Reservoir, a 1.5-million-gallon, above-ground tank of steel-reinforced concrete on a hill on Sombrero Drive overlooking the western part of the city. The reservoir began leaking after Thursday's earthquake and was drained.

City officials said the reservoir cannot be repaired. The city has maintained water service by pumping from other reservoirs.

Brian C. Smith, acting city librarian, said one-third of the 140,000 books in the Bruggemeyer Memorial Library crashed to the floor, along with dozens of ceiling tiles, when the first quake hit. Four glass windows were also shattered.

Safety Ropes

The library reopened Tuesday, with all books back on the shelves. Some areas near damaged windows were roped off for safety.

Smith said it was fortunate that the library was closed when the quake hit. "We would have had an absolute panic," he said.

Page said one lesson Monterey Park learned from the earthquake is that "it sure is helpful to have a disaster drill two days before the real thing."

Department heads and middle-management employees participated in an earthquake exercise from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 29.

One question that could not be answered during the drill, Page said, was how many employees would respond to an emergency and how many would stay home to help their families. In the quake aftermath last Thursday, Page said, Monterey Park had 28 firemen on duty, double the normal complement.

While Monterey Park was able to cope with an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale, Page said he worries that the success may "lull us into a degree of complacency."

When a quake hits 8 on the Richter scale, he said, it is likely that utility services will be disrupted for days or weeks, and "each family will become its own survival unit."

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