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Experts Advise on Making Old Buildings Safer in Quakes

October 29, 1987|From the Associated Press

Safety experts gathered Wednesday to tell city officials how to protect communities from earthquake damage, while others continued to offer help for victims of the Oct. 1 temblor.

The daylong safety seminar for Southern California officials and building engineers was planned in April, months before the devastating 6.1-magnitude quake that caused at least $213 million in damage.

Participants said the quake apparently stirred interest in the event.

'Want to Do Something'

"They now see the damage that the Whittier quake caused and they want to do something," said John Kariotis, an engineer specializing in making earthquake-prone buildings safe.

Kariotis told about 300 people attending the conference that old buildings, especially historic ones, should be refurbished to survive a quake instead of being torn down.

"I think it's very important to retain the old buildings and mix them with the new buildings to maintain our history," he said.

Owners of about 600 of Long Beach's oldest buildings have been ordered by the city to submit plans by early 1991 to reinforce the structures or face the possibility of having them demolished.

Historic Landmarks

Many of the buildings are historic landmarks such as the Villa Rivera, the Jergens Trust Building and the Wilmore. In some cases, the reinforcement is expected to be too costly.

But Kariotis said he has developed specialized, low-cost techniques for bringing taller, historic buildings up to earthquake standards, such as those along Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach and on Broadway and Spring Street in Los Angeles' financial district.

Strengthening older structures before a quake can help business owners stay in business and reduce loss of life in a major earthquake, he said.

"The majority of work being done on these buildings is life-saving work," Kariotis said. "If I limit the damage to a structure, I limit the danger to lives."

Quake Help Continues

Meanwhile, help continued to be offered to victims of the Oct. 1 quake.

Psychiatrists at Pasadena Community Hospital, recognizing that many people are still suffering fear or anxiety brought on by the quake and its aftershocks, announced a monthlong series of free seminars on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings on how to deal with quake-related stress.

Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is helping earthquake victims apply for federal loans to repair property damaged by the quake, was still receiving disaster assistance applications, said agency spokesman Charles Raudebaugh.

He said 16,897 people have applied for low-interest loans so far and more than $1 million in checks have been mailed to 1,488 applicants.

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