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Earthquake Center Still Home for Fearful

October 11, 1987|ANDREA ESTEPA | Times Staff Writer

ALHAMBRA — A week after the San Gabriel Valley was rocked by an earthquake, a Red Cross evacuation center was still sheltering more than 100 people, many of whom were simply too scared to go home.

For some, "there really isn't anything wrong with their house; their house wasn't demolished," shelter manager Lynn Backus said Thursday. "But they're frightened to go home."

Backus said the fearful included a number of Central American refugees who had experienced far more devastating earthquakes in their homelands and seemed to believe that the worst was still to come.

"We had a family here from Nicaragua--15 people from great-grandparents to babies in arms," Backus said. "I don't think there was anything wrong with their house because one of the daughters was still living in it. But they were reliving the earthquake they had lived through in Nicaragua."

A number of people who had no tragic memories of earlier temblors were just as edgy.

Chantal Turner-Robinson, 18, moved into the shelter at the Joslyn Adult Recreation Center on Saturday with her husband and 4-month-old baby. The foundation of their Alhambra apartment building had shifted during the Oct. 1 quake, leaving their apartment with a slanted floor and cracks in the walls.

On Monday, her brother-in-law called to say that he had found them a new place to live. The new apartment, also in Alhambra, was on the top floor of a four-story building. Turner-Robinson moved her family in Monday night. They were back at the Red Cross shelter Tuesday morning.

"I couldn't take it; I was on edge," Turner-Robinson said. "I thought someone was out on the balcony and the balcony was moving. And I saw cracks from the earthquake on the wall all around the balcony.

"I couldn't sleep," she said. "I was pacing the floor. When he woke up Tuesday morning, I told my brother-in-law, 'I'm sorry, I can't stay. I want to go back to the shelter.' "

On Thursday, Turner-Robinson said she had been sleeping better since returning to the shelter and was ready to look at houses again.

"I'm going to look at a place tonight," she said. "It's a bungalow. It's on the ground. I couldn't take being on the fourth floor."

Backus described the people who were still staying at the center as "very jumpy" but said she was starting to see a return to normalcy as the week drew to a close.

"People, I think, are beginning to get some of their equilibrium back," she said. "As long as we don't have another shake."

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