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Earthquake Assistance

March 12, 1995

* Re "Congress Plays Games With Earthquake Aid to the Region," editorial, March 6: My son through no fault of his own was permanently brain injured when he was struck by a car as a child in 1981. Now at 25 years old, he cannot read or write, nor can he understand or speak without great difficulty, and a seizure disorder continues to plague him. He, and many other disabled persons, live in Section 8, HUD unit in Irvine.

My son will soon be another victim of the Northridge quake because Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), it appears, is acquiescing to the demands of House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.), and is about to take HUD monies to provide FEMA with funds for future national emergencies.

This action will leave many truly, permanently disabled persons without housing! These are our societies less fortunate, those who are truly in need. HUD funds will be transferred to FEMA leaving the disabled, as you state in your editorial, "the nation's least powerful constituents," without housing.

I have been writing HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, many Congress members, including Rep. Lewis, and senators about this for weeks. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is the only person to respond. I thank you for your editorial and increased public awareness on this topic.

BARBARA H. HOWARD

San Clemente

* Geologist Kerry Sieh's comments (March 6) regarding the realities of life in the active seismic environment of California are right on the mark and not open to a lot of discussion by those who are reasonably informed on the subject.

Harassment that Sieh and others receive from politicians, developers and tour operators for speaking the truth publicly just goes with the territory. Businesses, residents and visitors are in California because they want to be and many simply don't know the risks.

Competent earthquake engineers, seismologists and geologists will readily agree that there is virtually no such thing as an "earthquake proof" structure; time and magnitude cannot be predicted; and we don't even know where all the active faults are, let alone which is next to let go.

J. FRANK BRENNAN

La Canada

* Recently, I traveled by subway and train through the ruined city of Kobe, Japan. While civic organizers have done a masterful job in restoring some public transportation, overall traffic flow and Japan's famed railway system have been seriously affected.

With dusk approaching and a steady drizzle coloring rush hour, I joined hundreds of commuters in a slow procession between stations. In near silence, the riders disembarked and walked through quake-damaged neighborhoods re-boarding at the next viable station and repeating the process as required.

Over 200,000 Kobe residents still depend on some form of relief service for shelter, food or social assistance. I am surprised that The Times and other U.S. media can so quickly overlook this continuing human drama--focusing instead on the lurid appeal of the Simpson case. Arguable the human dramas of Kobe, Somalia, Russia and Mexico warrant as much coverage as this tawdry melodrama.

DANIEL Mc CUE

Laguna Niguel

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