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Community News: Central

ECHO PARK : Volunteers Rally to Aid Quake Victims

January 30, 1994|IRIS YOKOI

Galvanized by the Jan. 17 quake, volunteers and community groups set up an emergency shelter at the Echo Park Recreation Center last weekend for about 250 residents who had been living in local parks.

The displaced residents came from apartment buildings on Echo Park Avenue, Park Drive and Sunset Boulevard. Only one or two of the buildings have been condemned but many left their homes out of fear of structural damage, said Jose Gardea, an aide to Councilman Mike Hernandez.

While waiting for building inspectors, residents set up camp in Elysian Park and around Echo Park Lake, Gardea said. "We were concerned for their safety, especially with the rains coming. And we were concerned for the kids' health," Gardea said.

So Hernandez's staff called together community groups Jan. 21 to help open a shelter the next morning in the recreation center. In addition to the councilman's staff and city Recreation and Parks workers, members of Central City Action Committee, Echo Park Improvement Assn., El Centro del Pueblo, Grupo Latino Echo Park, the Echo Park Chamber of Commerce and Jovenes Inc., volunteered.

Local businesses such as Barragan's restaurant, Burger King, Celaya Bakery, Phoenix Express takeout and Domino's Pizza donated food, while Pioneer Market donated diapers, paper goods and other items.

"Some of these folks who'd been in the parks got their first hot meal in several days," Gardea said.

By last Sunday morning, the apartment buildings had been inspected and most were deemed free of serious damage, allowing many residents to return. The Echo Park shelter was closed at 6 p.m.

"There was no hesitation--these people were there for the community," said Bonnie Scanlon, a community activist. "It was great to see so many people working together."

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