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Hearts of L.A. / How the Quake Rocked Our Spirits and Changed Our Lives : COPING WITH CHAOS : 'People here don't know what they are going to do.'

January 30, 1994|Ana Morales and Rosa Dominguez and Sylvia Elizabeth Garcia | Morales, 42, and her 14-year-old daughter, along with three other families, have been living in a makeshift plastic tent across the street from their apartment building at Westlake and 3rd s treets, near MacArthur Park. and

Since the earthquake, we have remained outside. We went to MacArthur Park for a while, but we didn't like it there. We came back and set up a plastic tent on this side of the street. On the other side is our apartment building.

Since the "no entry" sign was put up on our building, we only go back in for necessities, for emergencies. The American Red Cross came and scolded us. They want us to go to a shelter, but we have to keep an eye on our building. What if looters try to get in?

I lost my job the day of the quake. The lady I work for in Beverly Hills took my job away because I didn't go to work on Monday. How was I supposed to go clean her house in Beverly Hills if I was out here?

I haven't gotten ill, but my nerves are shot bad. My daughter has a sore throat. That boy over there has the flu. Everyone who's here is ill. People from Clinica Para Las Americas came on Wednesday and took care of us.

I had paid my rent on Sunday and then on Monday this happened. The owner said he wasn't going to give anyone back their rent money. I paid and now I'm living on the street with my traumatized daughter. She hasn't gone back to school. I don't know if anyone will send us help.

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Dominguez, 38, came to America 15 years ago from El Salvador. She is the single parent of two children, ages 9 and 1.

We walk to Belmont High School at about 8 p.m. every night to sleep there because my son is very frightened. We don't stay in the apartment because the ceiling is buckling. During the day, we're here watching that our things are not taken from the apartments.

The owner says that the building is OK, that we can go inside. But we're scared, the apartments are very bad. We've asked the owner for our deposit to go elsewhere, but he said he wouldn't give it to us. And he said whoever wanted to leave, they could, but he wasn't going to return the deposit. We don't have any support whatsoever from anybody.

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Garcia, 30, from Guatemala, a single parent of 4-year-old Luis Alfredo Godoy Garcia, has lived in Los Angeles for nine years.

When the earthquake hit, it was terrifying. The balcony doors are now shut closed, sealed. There's only the stairs because the elevators don't work.

The day after the quake, we built our tents out here to sleep. The plastic for the tents was given to us by the Chinese man from a nearby furniture store. We're not sleeping on beds, just on cushions and mattresses that were thrown there on top of cardboard and blankets.

In the daytime we are here. At times we go up to the apartment for clothes, but nothing else. We're afraid. At the moment we don't know what we are going to do. We are confused with all that has happened. The day after the earthquake, the police came around midnight and 1 a.m. knocking on our doors to get out of the building because of the damage, to not to be in there anymore.

I was very ill from coughing and the flu. The night before last, I had high fevers from sleeping out here. I don't want to sleep at Belmont High School. We can't abandon the apartments. We have to be near. I'm feeling a lot of tension.

I don't know what I'm going to do. The owner took us to other buildings he owns that are in worse condition than the one we are in. But I don't want to live there. Meanwhile, people here don't know what they are going to do. We are living day by day.

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