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La Habra earthquake: Cleanup effort continues, aftershocks 'normal'

About two dozen people are still displaced Sunday as the cleanup effort continues from the La Habra earthquake.
March 30, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
About two dozen people in Fullerton and Brea are still displaced as the cleanup effort continues from the La Habra earthquake.

The Fullerton Fire Department said seven homes have been red-tagged due to the damage. It is in those homes where the cleanup has yet to begin, as inspectors continue to assess the stability of the structures.

Classes at Fanning Elementary School in Brea have been canceled Monday. Officials need to further assess the safety of the of the campus, school principal Susan Metcalf said in a statement. Childcare at the school will be relocated to Mariposa School. Classes at Fanning are anticipated to resume Tuesday.

Meantime, aftershocks continue to shake the ground and rattle nerves. About 150 aftershocks rumbled the area over the weekend - the latest, magnitude 2.7, centered about a mile south-southeast of La Habra, at 9:05 a.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, Eyewitness News viewers reported feeling what seemed like aftershock after aftershock.

One was magnitude 3.4, centered about a mile south of La Habra, at 9:02 a.m. Another one, magnitude 4.1, was centered about one mile southeast of Rowland Heights at 2:32 p.m. A magnitude 3.3 earthquake hit at 10:51 p.m. one mile south-southwest of La Habra, and a magnitude 3.1 aftershock, at 11:17 p.m., was centered one mile south-southeast of La Habra.

Seismologists said Friday's 5.1-magnitude earthquake was at a depth of around 1 mile. There were no immediate reports of significant damage or major injuries. Videos and pictures from many stores also showed a huge mess after items flew off shelves and isles were littered with debris.

The earthquake was felt from the Mexico border to Central Valley.

Caltech's Lucy Jones says the aftershocks that have hit following the earthquake are "a normal aftershock sequence."

Nevertheless, the aftershocks come as people try to clean up the damage from Friday. A cinderblock and brick wall is now crumbled outside Loretta Shepherd's Fullerton home. She also has cracks in her chimney, and other damage outside and inside the house.

"It was hard. I lost my great-grandmother's crystal bowl that was a wedding gift from the 1800's - that was hard, but we're OK, that's the main thing," said Loretta in tears.

Her son Jeff Shepherd has been assessing the situation.

"I was surprised to see the damage at her house, but the main thing is that she is OK," said Jeff.

On Saturday night, 20 apartment units on the 2700 block of Associated Road that had been red-tagged were cleared by Fullerton officials.

Building inspectors examined the cracks and determined that foundations were not compromised, so 73 people were allowed to return Saturday night, according to Battalion Chief John Stokes. Seven homes remain red-tagged in Fullerton.

More than 30 homes and apartments were red-tagged in the wake of the temblor, leaving 83 people displaced.

On Saturday, the department began a concerted effort to assess the structural integrity of many of the city's buildings, said Stokes. Further inspections could lead to more red-tagged residences.

La Habra City Councilman James Gomez says 25 La Habra residents were displaced. A Red Cross shelter was set up on the 100 block of West La Habra Boulevard following the earthquake for residents forced out of their home or who voluntarily chose to stay there. The shelter was closed it once 38 people who stayed overnight returned home.

In Brea, one residential building and one commercial building were red-tagged.

Carbon Canyon Road was reopened to residents Saturday night after workers neutralized rocks in immediate danger of sliding. Olinda residents could acess via Chino Hills, and Brea Hills residents could access via Carbon Canyon Road and Valencia Avenue.

On Friday, the department tweeted a photo of a car that struck a rock and overturned. The road will remain closed indefinitely, Brea police said. All other traffic was urged to avoid the area until further notice.

According to seismologists, the quake occurred near the Puente Hills thrust - that's the fault responsible for the Whittier Narrows earthquake of 1987.

The Whittier Narrows quake killed eight people and caused more than $350 million in damage.

What makes scientists so nervous is that the Puente Hills fault zone covers a massive area. It's 25 miles wide and runs through heavily populated Orange County to downtown Los Angeles.

Officials say the temblor should serve as a reminder that Southern California residents need to be prepared at any moment.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.


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