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Kids Are Shaky - But They’ll Get Over It If They Talk With AM-Calif Quake, Bjt

April 28, 1992

SCOTIA, Calif. (AP) _ A powerful weekend earthquake sent 15-year-old Tiffany Shoemaker racing from her mobile home, fearing for her life and that of her brother, who lay unresponsive on the floor.

But she needn’t have worried about 12-year-old Stanley. He was merely asleep, unaffected by the shaking ground, his sister’s screaming or the collapse of their home.

Their reactions typified the variety of responses children had to the series of earthquakes that rocked Northern California on Saturday and Sunday, causing serious damage but no major injuries.

″I’m terrified of earthquakes,″ Tiffany said Monday. ″I just freak out. I just hope we don’t have any more.″

Stanley, watching workers clean debris from a $15 million fire that destroyed Scotia’s shopping center, considered the Sunday morning aftershock that crushed their home in nearby Stafford more of an inconvenience.

″I was sleeping on the floor until some stupid guy woke me up and made me stand in the doorway,″ he said, referring to a neighbor.

As most adults took up the job of getting life back to normal after Saturday’s 6.9 quake and Sunday’s two big aftershocks, some children dealt with fright and anxiety.

Three-year-old Jared Sousa clung tightly to his mother’s neck for hours following Sunday’s aftershocks, which measured 6.0 and 6.5. But by Monday, he and his 5-year-old sister, Laura, were playing happily with other children on the lawn of the Scotia Volunteer Fire Department.

″They’ll forget fast, so they’ll be OK,″ said Melanie Sousa, their mother.

Many schools in the mountainous, rural area were closed Monday. Those that were open had unusually high absentee rates, said Joe Krzesni, director of the Humboldt County Office of Mental Health.

Krzesni said his office would work closely with teachers to help children work through their fears.

″The key is getting them to talk about what happened to them, or to write or draw pictures, so this does not have to be bottled up inside,″ he said.

Parents need to reassure worried youngsters.

″They need to say, ’We’re scared, too,″ Krzesni said. ″But life goes on. They need to get back to the routine. Kids are going to be looking toward their parents to see how they’re holding up.″

The Shoemaker mobile home was crumpled by the quakes. For now, Tiffany and Stanley are staying with relatives in Scotia.

″I told my mom that I am never, ever living in a trailer again,″ Tiffany said. ″I said I am living in a house that’s on the ground.″

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