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Quake Rattles S. California’s Nerves; Pomona Estimates $20 Million Damage

March 1, 1990

UPLAND, Calif. (AP) _ One city struck by a jolting earthquake estimated damage at $20 million today as safety inspectors across the region began a street-by-street look at their communities’ older buildings and roads.

Wednesday’s quake measured at 5.5 on the Richter scale and triggered rock slides, broke windows, crumbled a warehouse wall and swayed skyscrapers as far away as Las Vegas, nearly 200 miles from the epicenter.

Two people suffered broken legs and one woman went into early labor during the 3:43 p.m. temblor, said Upland Councilman Tom McGilloway, the city’s acting mayor. He did not have details on how the injuries occurred.

It was the strongest quake in California since the Oct. 17 one in the San Francisco Bay area. begin. That quake, measuring 7.1, killed 67 people and caused $7 billion in damage.

About 25 people evacuated an apartment building to spend the night in a Red Cross shelter, he said.

″It felt like somebody picked up the building and dropped it a couple of times,″ said Police Lt. Don Manning in nearby Ontario, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. ″It was like we went up a foot, then down a foot, then up again.″

Local states of emergency were declared by city officials in Pomona, Claremont and LaVerne, in order to begin a process that would help them seek federal rebuilding aid if needed.

Pomona Mayor Donna Davis made a preliminary damage estimate of $20 million, said city fire department inspector Ron Gomez. Pomona City Hall was closed today as workers shoveled out broken glass and repaired other damage, Gomez said. The city of 113,000, the largest town in the immediate vicinity of the epicenter near Upland, is roughly 10 miles south of the epicenter.

Michael Guerin of the state Office of Emergency Services said he was awaiting assessments from cities in the area struck by the quake before making a damage estimate for the whole region.

Numerous aftershocks, including a shaker measuring 4.8 at 7:24 p.m., kept residents on edge throughout the area. The OES issued an advisory saying equally strong or more powerful aftershocks could occur over the next three days.

Southern California Edison said 6,000 customers temporarily lost electrical power. The utility said the San Onofre nuclear plant remained in operation.

Charlene Kennedy said she and her mother suffered cuts and bruises when ceiling tiles and boxes of shoes fell on them in a store in Upland.

″We were making our way out the door and I turned and saw a wall of hysterical people running towards us,″ she said.

Workers leaped out of windows and dived off a loading dock as a 20-by-70- foot wall collapsed at an auto parts warehouse in nearby La Verne.

″Everything happened so fast trying to get 70 people out of the warehouse it’s amazing nobody got seriously hurt,″ said supervisor Stan Sokolowski.

A boulder twice the size of a car blocked a main two-lane road through the San Gabriel Mountains. Rock slides blocked mountain roads at several other points north of Upland.

Cathryn Lethers, manager of a bar at Mount Baldy ski lodge, said about 25 people were stuck there until rock slides could be cleared.

″I had glasses flying all over the place. Everybody just ran inside. It was pretty scary,″ she said. ″We’re all kind of giggling about it now, thanking God that it wasn’t the Big One.″

The quake, centered five miles below the surface, ruptured a fault running from the northeast to the southwest, said seismologist Kate Hutton at the California Institute of Technology. It followed a 3.6-magnitude quake at 12:37 p.m.

The quake was felt as a fairly short jolt at the epicenter but lasted more than 20 seconds in downtown Los Angeles, said Caltech spokesman Hall Daily.

The worst recent Southern California quake struck the Whittier area Oct. 1, 1987. It measured 5.9 and, together with a 5.3-magnitude aftershock Oct. 4, killed eight people, injured more than 200 and caused $358 million in damage.

The Richter scale is a measure of ground motion as recorded on seismographs. An earthquake of 5 can cause considerable damage and 6 severe damage.

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