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Hearts of L.A. / How the Quake Rocked Our Spirits and Changed Our Lives : COPING WITH CHAOS : 'No one wanted to be alone again.'

January 30, 1994|Monica Leveque | Leveque, 26, of Cheviot Hills, is job developer at the UCLA Placement Center and a single mother. During the earthquake, her 6-year-old daughter, Christina, was staying with Leveque's former husband in Los Angeles, with whom she shares joint custody. and

I'm not even sure how I got out of bed because the dresser next to me fell. As I tried to gather some things to leave my apartment, a friend of mine came by. It was a relief to see her. She had a flashlight and told me step by step what I needed to do, because I was somewhat still disoriented. She helped me find my clothes and practically put them on me.

During the quake and afterward, I just started thinking about people that I knew who would be frightened, such as my grandmother.

And my daughter. I didn't know if she was all right or if anything (had) happened to her. The phone lines were out so we couldn't contact her.

We left the apartment and picked up my friend's sister and another woman who were also alone. My friend knew how worried I was about Christina, and so we started across the city to find out how she was and what was happening with her.

We went down Wilshire. It was really interesting with no stop lights. Most people were pretty much automatically doing the four-way stop throughout the city, but not everyone. Also, it was completely dark except when we went through Beverly Hills and all the lights were on. That was really odd, surreal.

It took about an hour and a half, much of it in tears, before we got to Christina's father's near the La Brea tar pits. I could be strong about the earthquake; that didn't bother me. But I was worrying about how she was. And whenever I would focus on that, I would break down a little bit.

I tried to think of other things because I was trying not to think about something bad happening to Christina.

When we finally got to her dad's place, I knocked on the door really loud because I didn't know what was going on. Her dad opened the door and she was sleeping on the couch under a lot of blankets.

I can't tell you what a relief it was to see her. She was very calm. It didn't seem that she really understood the magnitude of what had happened. I don't think she even woke up until her father took her out of the room during the earthquake. I just immediately went and picked her up and just held on to her real tight.

We left Christina and her dad, and went from apartment to apartment of the people that were (in the car) seeing what the damage was and picking up a little bit. No one wanted to be alone again. So we pretty much stayed together the rest of the day, just going from place to place.

Later that evening, Christina's dad called. They had gone through the city trying to find a place to eat but couldn't find anything open. Then his car broke down in Hollywood and they had to walk home. He was calling to see if I could pick her up because he still didn't have electricity yet, and he figured that she should be with me because then she'd have electricity.

I was actually relieved that he called because I was just very, very happy to have her home.

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