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Hearts of L.A. / How the Quake Rocked Our Spirits and Changed Our Lives : BINDING THE WOUNDS : 'I realized that we had been very, very lucky.'

January 30, 1994|Susan Bell | Bell, 37, teaches in Los Angeles at the Cahuenga Elementary School, which draws its students from the immigrant neighborhoods south of Hollywood that were heavily damaged in the quake. She lives in Van Nuys with her husband and young child.

I remember hearing a tremendous roaring sound. I had been through the Sylmar quake and I lived in Pasadena during that Whittier quake, so it has a particular sound. I grabbed my 7 1/2-month old baby, and I got under a desk, which was next to the bed.

My husband got under the door. After it was all over, he got a flashlight and we looked around the house and we just saw that the ginger jar had broken. We got back in bed and then we started getting phone calls.

A friend of ours called half a mile away and half their house was destroyed. And I realized that we had been very, very lucky.

I was really grateful that the school district did not make us go back to work because it would have been very hard to have to take care of 30 children and their fears when there were a lot of aftershocks. What surprised me the first day of school was that the kids did not want to talk about the earthquake at all.

They just said: "We don't want to talk about it any more, we just want to do our work."

And when I asked about that later, they said that by starting their work again, it's symbolic of their lives returning to normal. And by talking about it, it just keeps it going, and they just want it to be over.

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