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Hearts of L.A. / How the Quake Rocked Our Spirits and Changed Our Lives : TAKING CHARGE : 'My daughter said, "You'd better start packing." '

January 30, 1994|Darlene Pyle | Pyle, 59, of Portland, Ore., is a reservist for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She is a real estate agent when not working for FEMA. and

I first heard about it when my daughter called an hour after the quake and said, 'Mom, you'd better start packing.' I've handled almost every kind of disaster--floods to earthquakes to volcanoes to fires and tornadoes.

Earthquakes are the most frightening because they're so sneaky and there's no warning, and the aftershocks just keep coming. The damage is so incredible. Sometimes when there's a flood, they have advance notice, but with earthquakes there isn't any preliminary planning.

I really enjoy the disaster relief part of my job. In the midst of crisis and chaos, we try to bring normality. We are doing everything humanly possible to bring aid to these people here, but the logistics of so many is just kind of overwhelming. It's frustrating.

But the people and their stories are interesting. One, an Armenian, was very upset because they'd gone through the earthquake in Armenia and moved here to get away from earthquakes.

People coming in have been pretty calm, even though some have been afraid that maybe we'll run out of money.

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