Quake Damage at Least $20 Million : New Slide Recloses Mt. Baldy Road; Aftershocks Continue


Residents and merchants swept up debris and inspectors fanned out in foothill areas beneath the San Gabriel Mountains this morning to begin totaling losses from Wednesday afternoon's quake, which inflicted at least $20 million in damage, closed roads and left about 25 people homeless.

The state Office of Emergency Services said a preliminary count showed 30 people injured and 40 buildings damaged in the 5.5-magnitude quake. But the damage estimate is expected to rise sharply as property owners and city officials take stock today.

At least 30 measurable aftershocks have been felt, but fortunately for shaken residents only two minor shocks struck overnight.

Driving remained hazardous in the mountains above Upland, near the quake's epicenter. A new rockslide closed Mt. Baldy Road again about 11 a.m., and boulders could be heard shifting on the hillsides. Several smaller mountain roads remain blocked by large boulders.

Pomona Mayor Donna Davis made a preliminary damage estimate of $20 million for her city, Fire Inspector Ron Gomez said. City Hall was heavily damaged.

In Upland, schools opened as usual this morning, while business owners and city officials swapped tales, cleaned up debris and tried to come up with their own estimates.

Most residents and city officials just appeared grateful the shaker had not wrought more damage and seemed ready to get on with their lives.

"We were lucky, very lucky," Upland Mayor Bob Nolan said. "Now it's a matter of getting things in order and getting back to the business of running the city."

About 25 residents of an Upland apartment building were housed in motels overnight by the American Red Cross. The displaced residents, mostly Latino food service workers, had come to the area's only evacuation center.

For Rebecca Granda and others, the quake brought back frightening memories. "We were in Mexico City in 1985. . . . We saw buildings come down and people die," Granda said.

Upland building inspectors--aided by inspectors on loan from the cities of Rialto and Montclair--fanned out throughout the commercial area in response to damage reports received through the night.

"We had reports of staircases torn away from apartment buildings, roof damage and one gentleman who said his floor was collapsing under him," Upland building chief Don Ramsey said.

Much of the attention was focused on Upland's historic downtown area where 67 unreinforced masonry buildings dating to the turn of the century were scheduled for retrofitting to meet state seismic safety standards.

Ramsey said damage there appeared minor. "So far we have just one building in the downtown that is evacuated and sealed off," Ramsey said.

"But you can't tell a lot from a casual visual inspection. So we suspect we'll find more significant damage when we take a closer look."

Despite recurring aftershocks and some damage to nearby buildings, the dinner show went on Wednesday night at Griswold's Claremont Center. About 200 people, including a tour group from Flint, Mich., watched a production of "Fiddler on the Roof."

"We do appreciate all of you who did come out despite all the rocking and rolling . . .," Michael Bolling, director of operations, told spectators before the show.

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