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In the Wake of Oct. 1 Quake, This Temblor Was a Yawner

February 12, 1988|DANA PARSONS | Times Staff Writer

Much of Orange County apparently yawned through Thursday's breakfast-time aftershock of the Oct. 1 earthquake, with officials reporting only minor damage and injuries. A county emergency official referred to the temblor as "another lesson learned."

Unlike the early-morning Oct. 1 quake, which registered 5.9 on the Richter scale and was strong enough to make people wake up on the wrong side of the bed, Thursday's 7:28 a.m. aftershock did little more than stir people's coffee.

Officials said the aftershock registered 4.7 on the Richter scale, as reported by the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo. That figure probably is more accurate than a slightly higher reading at the Seismology Laboratory at Caltech, since the California lab is too close to the epicenter, county officials said.

The quake wasn't even threatening enough in Orange County to bolster sales of an "Earthquake Survival" video, which coincidentally reached Safeway stores this week. Dave Myers, manager of the Safeway in Costa Mesa, said he's sold six videos this week, but only two Thursday after the morning temblor.

"I think the fact that we've sold six suggests we'll sell some," Myers said, adding, "You can always erase it and tape over it."

Indeed, few Safeway customers Thursday afternoon seemed to even notice the video. Instead, they were stocking up on life's other necessities, like diet pop and nachos.

After noting the lack of interest in the video, Safeway clerk A. J. Phillips said: "They ought to make a video, 'How to Survive California.' It's getting tougher every day."

No Sale

Safeway customer Ron Kollhoff gave the video the once-over but passed up the chance to spend $9.95 on it. "If you've got to watch a video to survive an earthquake, you're in deep (trouble)," said Kollhoff, a Costa Mesa software consultant.

"I wouldn't buy it," said a middle-age woman who didn't want to be identified. "I've seen enough things on TV to know what to do. . . . I probably wouldn't even take it if it were free."

The only damage reported by local officials was some broken windows. The only reported injuries in Orange County involved a man who hurt his back, a woman who stubbed her toe and a child who bumped her head. All three were treated and released from Anaheim hospitals.

County officials said Orange County residents--depending on where they live--probably felt anything from a jolt to a wavelike motion that lasted several seconds.

Santa Ana Police Sgt. Scott Bowen, working at the county Courthouse, said, "Everybody dove for their desks and then went back to work."

Jerome Erb, a deputy county clerk in criminal courts, was especially stoic. He was eating an omelet in the courthouse cafeteria when the temblor struck. His reaction: "I kept eating," he said.

Kathy Gannon, who heads the Western Earthquake Readiness division of the Emergency Lifeline Corp., said the quake didn't do much for business Thursday.

"We haven't had as many calls as I would expect. Normally, we have a lot more after one," she said. "What I sense is that those people who are thinking preparedness are already calling in. We're getting new business every day."

When the aftershock hit, Gannon said she was meeting with the same group of five women, in the same house, as she was when the frightening Oct. 1 earthquake rattled Orange County.

2nd Time Around

When it was suggested to her that those women might be bringing her bad luck, she replied, laughing, "They all said they couldn't think of anyone they'd rather go through this with than me, because they thought I had all the answers."

Dale Brown, the Orange County Fire Department's program coordinator of the Emergency Management Division, said the 4.7 quake reading means the temblor "isn't even considered minor. It's below minor."

But not to scoff, Brown said. "None of them are fun if you're the one involved," he said. "Rather than have fun with this, I think another lesson learned would be better. This particular fault (Whittier Narrows) has shown us that late aftershocks are common.

"The thing we're trying to get across is getting people to shift from the big 8.3 (earthquake) idea and talk about 6s and 7s that can happen anytime," he added. "Those are much more frequent. They don't happen every 150 years; you don't have to wait three generations for that one."

Rather, Brown said, Southern Californians are much more susceptible to those smaller quakes, and "depending how close you are to the epicenter, they could kill you."

Orange County residents who live atop hard soil probably felt Thursday's temblor as a "quick jolt," Brown said. Others, particularly those in coastal cities like Huntington Beach, probably felt the "rolling action" that most people felt after the Oct. 1 quake.

It Got Worse

While the temblor was largely forgettable for many, it only served to cap what already had been a lousy few hours for Greg Kolb, owner of Power and Fitness, an Irvine health club.

About 3 a.m., the club was burglarized for the fourth time in two months, Kolb said.

As Kolb was standing in front of the club talking to police about the burglary, the temblor struck. "The whole building here just moved," Kolb said. "It felt like it dropped about a foot. It was so quick."

Kolb said a cursory inspection revealed cracks on some stairs inside the building and on the sidewalk.

"It's not been a great day for us," Kolb said.

Times staff writer Carlos Lozano contributed to this story.

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