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In Orange County, Some Felt Shaking, Many Didn't

March 21, 1994|ERIC LICHTBLAU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Since moving to California from Kentucky 20 years ago, Jim Blankenship of Santa Ana has been through several earthquakes--scary experiences that caused him to teach earthquake preparedness to his three young children.

But when the effects of a magnitude 5.3 quake centered in the San Fernando valley rolled through his neighborhood at 1:20 p.m. Sunday, Blankenship's 8-year-old son, Patrick, needed a little extra prodding. The boy was busy watching "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" on video, and didn't even notice the rumbling--until his father yelled for him to stand in the nearest door frame.

Blankenship, a 43-year-old salesman, said he heard a small roar before the foundation of his house shook for a few seconds. "I thought about the big quake (in January) and wondered if this was going to be a repeat," Blankenship said. "It didn't feel quite as hard as the one in January. But you could tell it was a good-sized one--lots of rolling back and forth."

It was like that throughout Orange County as thousands felt the sharp jolt, but suffered nothing worse than a few seconds of fear.

Police and emergency officials countywide said they received no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Even emergency phone lines--often jammed with calls even after less-jarring temblors--remained oddly silent Sunday. A spokesman for the Orange County Fire Department said dispatchers did not receive a single call seeking information about the quake.

"We just sat sat around here and looked at each other and said, 'How bad's it going to be?' " said a dispatcher at the county communications center in Orange. "Not bad, apparently."

At Disneyland in Anaheim, officials temporarily shut down some of the more popular rides and the monorail that shuttles visitors around the park to allow engineers to check for possible damage.

But the rides were reopened about 15 minutes later, said Pat Espinosa, who works in an office overlooking the park's Main Street attractions.

Espinosa said visitors appeared unfazed by the quake. "I looked out the window immediately," Espinosa said. "But the guests were walking and taking photos as if nothing had happened. We're glad that everyone is OK."

At a Lucky's supermarket in Laguna Hills, employees said the quake was not strong enough to shake piles of fruit from stands. In fact, many shoppers didn't even appear to have felt the temblor, said an assistant manager who asked not to be identified.

"We hardly felt it at all," she said. "Most of my associates didn't even realize it happened--just went about their business."

At a basketball court outside the Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana, Don Newsome kept shooting with his buddies, oblivious even an hour later to what had happened.

"No one noticed it at all, I guess 'cause we're moving out here so much," the 23-year-old Irvine resident said. "You get used to them after a while."

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