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Hearts of L.A. / How the Quake Rocked Our Spirits and Changed Our Lives : MAKING SENSE : 'I hope that this will be like a turning point.'

January 30, 1994|Scott and Kim Lee | Lee and his wife, Kim, both 47, came to the United States from Korea in the late '70s. Nine years ago, they began selling tropical fish from the Aquarium Center, a red-brick building in Santa Monica. Their business prospered, and six years ago they bought a $400,000 house in Malibu. and Then, the Lees were dealt two mighty blows . First, their home was destroyed in November's wildfires . ("The heat was so intense it even melted the refrigerator," Lee said.) They moved to an apartment near their business. and Two weeks ago, the Northridge quake slammed their shop, toppling dozens of plastic aquariums ("I tell my customers to get a plastic aquarium because plastic absorbs the shock") and spilling hundreds of fish and thousands of gallons of water onto the floor. and But the Lees (pictured on page one) are moving ahead with their lives, philosophical about the setbacks. and

There are problems everywhere. It may happen to anybody, it just happened to us. So we've got to get through somehow. We are much luckier than those people who lost their lives, Scott said.

I did cry at first, Kim said. What can you do? Now we are trying to rebuild our business and rebuild our home.

We worked hard the last few years, but since the fire, the money and material things, it's not that important, Scott said. Staying safe and healthy, living happier, those are the most important things.

In a way, I hope that this will be a turning point for our family to lean on God more, Kim said. I was not a serious Christian and Scott would say, "I just drive her to church." He falls asleep during the ceremony. But I hope that this will be like a turning point for all my family. Even for other people, too. If they trust in God more, they can find peace in God.

We've got to keep going, right? Scott said. I try. And luckily, I have a lot of support from my employees and customers. And all my friends and from my church--her church actually.

I think it's not that bad. Hundreds, even thousands of people are a lot worse than me. It's even better than when we had the riot. I think that one was really bad. This one is Mother Nature. The riot has a human cause. Compared to that, it's a lot better.

Of course, I think it made Los Angeles people think more. People try to help each other. I think it's a good lesson.

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