`I've never seen one that lasted so long'

  Haya El Nasser;Jonathan T. Lovitt


  USA Today


  Page 01A

  (Copyright 1992)


  YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. - Dane Huusfeldt considers himself an old hand at

  riding out California's most famous natural disaster.


  But even he has the shakes now. ``This earthquake was not normal,'' says

  Huusfeldt, 38. ``It was like Armageddon.''


  Two giant quakes, unrelated but within 25 miles of each other, gave Southern

  Californians vicious wake-up calls Sunday. They rattled even the toughest quake



  ``I've been through so many earthquakes I can't count them,'' Huusfeldt says. ``I

  hate to sound that radical, but I've never seen one that lasted so long.''


  Generally, after any quake, Californians rush to their phones to check on friends

  and relatives. Then they push the glasses back on the cupboard shelves,

  straighten out the pictures on the walls and get on with their lives.


  Not this time. Now, people are truly scared - and all the more anxious after a

  tumultuous year of insect invasions, budget crises, drought, floods and race riots.


  ``It just feels like it's always something,'' says Connie Moser, 41, a Los Angeles

  technical writer who has lived in California since she was 9. ``First the economy,

  then the riots happen, then the quake but not just one quake but back-to-back



  Said Gov. Pete Wilson after declaring a state of emergency in Riverside and San

  Bernardino counties: ``I think we're in hard times. This just compounds it.''


  Everyone is shaken. ``I used to live in the Bay Area and I've felt big earthquakes

  before, but nothing close to this,'' says Roger Stockman, owner of Grubstake Inn

  in Landers, near the epicenter of the first one.


  ``It was like a monster picked us up and shook us, and shook us and shook us.''


  Says Moser, ``This one really got my heart beating.'' And by late Sunday she still

  couldn't get quakes off her mind. ``My first inclination is to just pack up and

  move but we have to stay where the jobs are.''


  The rolling temblor that shook Yucca Valley was the worst in many residents'

  lifetimes. It hit on the same, unnamed fault that triggered April's 6.3 Joshua Tree



  Both quakes triggered a dizzying series of aftershocks. And both were

  dangerously close to the San Andreas Fault - likely to one day cause the dreaded

  ``Big One.''


  Even scientists couldn't offer much comfort. ``We just don't know, but today's

  the day to worry about it,'' said Lucy Jones, a U.S. Geological Survey

  seismologist. ``We've got an 8 waiting to happen.''


  The state promptly issued an unusually ominous warning: ``We are experiencing

  a robust aftershock sequence and expect the earthquakes to continue.''


  ``I don't think I'd be as worried if I hadn't heard that,'' Moser says.


  State emergency officials asked people to stay off roads most of the day.


  Scientists said there was a 50% chance of another quake above 6 on the Richter

  scale sometime during the next week.


  College student Chander Erickson, 20, of Big Bear decided to stay at an

  emergency shelter at the high school rather than sleep at home. ``The place

  almost crashed down on me,'' she says. ``It's going to be a long time before I can

  get a good night's sleep.''


  Some things will never be the same. Seismologists say the earth slipped by as

  much as 18 feet along the fault line. By mid-day Sunday, more than 40

  aftershocks of magnitude 3.7 or more rolled through the region - along with

  hundreds of smaller ones.


  There were few casualties, thanks mainly to the area's sparse population. But if

  these quakes are warning signs that the San Andreas Fault is ready to rupture -

  which could produce a quake close to Los Angeles - the toll could be staggering:

  an estimated 14,000 killed, 55,000 injured.


  So once again, the sinister specter of the ``Big One'' looms, creating plenty of

  fear along the fault lines.


  Residents of Yucca Valley fled their homes. At a trailer park, people abandoned

  their mobile homes without even bothering to shut the door. In the San

  Bernardino National Forest, campers were fleeing by the thousands, jamming

  roads and freeways back to Los Angeles.


  ``This is only the beginning,'' says Mary Gualtieri, 71, who immediately decided

  to head to Arizona to stay with her daughter. ``Sleep there tonight? ... Go

  through this again? No way,'' she says.


  The quakes were felt as far away as Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. Tourists

  who happened to be in the state got an unforgettable memento.


  Barbara Matthews, of Oakton, Va., was visiting friends in Lake Arrowhead for

  the weekend - her maiden trip to California.


  ``Coming from the East Coast ... we're used to danger from the sky,'' she says.

  ``It's so strange to sit there on an absolutely glorious day because you know the

  whole thing can fall apart from underneath you.''


  Says Thelma Wilson, whose husband suffered chest pains after the 7.4 quake:

  ``You can't run. You can't hide. You just stay and eventually it stops.''


  Even Los Angeles clinical psychologist Daniela Alloro, who's treated quake

  trauma cases, was jittery. ``Really, if you think, to some extent we can avoid

  other areas of danger. But when we're talking about earthquakes, we cannot get

  away. That's the scary part. People feel totally helpless. There is no way out.''


  For some, the only way out was out of state. ``I'm going back today,'' said New

  Yorker Marilyn Granger, who was visiting Los Angeles. ``It was like being in

  the bowels of the subway. ... I won't stay here now.''


  Frances Wilson moved here from Chicago this spring. Having already lived

  through three major quakes, she's ``ready to go back.''


  But not everyone has that option. Californians who can't avoid the threat of more

  shaking and rolling rushed to do what they could to minimize the impact of

  another quake.


  ``People are scared,'' said Richard Orjal, a customer service representative at a

  Van Nuys Builders Emporium store. ``Everything is flying out of here -

  flashlights, wrenches to turn the gas off, lots of water.''


  That, says psychologist Alloro, is not a bad coping mechanism. ``It makes you

  feel somewhat under control . . instead of sitting and turning into a panic.'' She

  spent her Sunday taping windows and restocking her water supply. ``I did my

  best and I'm not totally out of control.''


  But many tragedy weary Southern Californians are taking earthquakes in stride.

  ``We lived through the riots, we can live through the earthquakes,'' says Louis

  Smith, 29, a Los Angeles janitor.


  Even William Peterson, 32, of Baldwin Hills, whose apartment building suffered

  cracks, says: ``It's all part of life. Michigan has tornadoes. The `Big One' will

  happen one day or another.''


  Says Hector Conte, 33, an electrician from Reseda: ``No damage. No problems.

  Just another quake.''


  Contributing: Eric Barad, Mary-Ann Bendel, Jim Brooks, Carolyn Pesce,

  Victoria Wagner


  CUTLINE:DIGGING OUT: Brett Whitson watches his footing as he jacks up his

  car to get its rear wheel out of a fissure on Route 247 north of Yucca Valley. The

  area was hit by two major earthquakes Sunday. CUTLINE:IN LOS ANGELES:

  Zenaida Macias, right, feels the shock wave of a second earthquake Sunday.

  With her is Rosa Gomez, holding son Francisco.

  PHOTO;color,Gerard Burkhart,Reuters;PHOTO;b/w,Joe Pugliese,Los Angeles

  Times via Reuters