Although damage in El Monte was not as widespread as in other cities in the western San Gabriel Valley, city officials have declared a local emergency and are seeking state and federal disaster relief to repair an estimated $20 million in damage.
Most seriously hit was El Monte's downtown business district, where three buildings, constructed with unreinforced masonry and built before the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, have been declared unsafe, said Len Therrien, the city's assistant administrative officer. Although building inspectors' reports have not been completed, the three buildings are expected to be demolished.
"I think it would be economically unwise (to repair the buildings)," Therrien said. "Most of those buildings were built in the 1910s and 1920s, and unless they were reinforced following some earlier earthquake, I don't think they could be repaired."
Damage in residential areas was limited to collapsed chimneys and brick facades, and no homes have been declared unsafe, Therrien said. He said most El Monte residents consider themselves lucky.