Nervous residents hang on // Aftershocks rattle desert communities
Mary-Ann Bendel;Sally Ann Stewart
JOSHUA TREE, Calif. - People here are saying they don't need alarm clocks
anymore - after being jolted out of their beds by early morning quakes for the
second day in a row Monday.
``This morning was a hell of a way to wake up,'' says produce clerk Myrtle Price,
53. ``If I can survive tonight I'm leaving town. It's just too much.''
Four of Monday's aftershocks measured between 4.9 and 5.4 on the Richter
scale, the magnitude of moderate quakes. The aftershocks prompted 15 people to
seek treatment at Hi-Desert Hospital for injuries ranging from chest pains to cuts
from objects that fell.
But nearly every resident in these desert towns is a casualty. More than 300
crowded the emergency shelters in Yucca Valley, Big Bear Lake and Morongo
Basin. Hundreds more, too scared to sleep in their own homes, bedded down in
cars or under tents pitched on lawns.
Barbara and Gordon Cooper were too nervous to join neighbors in a
subdivision-wide camp-out. They left their wrecked house to clean up later and
headed over to a relative's mobile home.
``I don't want to go back into the house,'' says Barbara Cooper, 51. ``I'm too
afraid. The chain link fence in front is twisted like a pretzel.''
About 30,000 residents had their water supply either cut off or contaminated. Bill
Smillie, of San Bernardino County Department of Special Water Districts, says it
will be a month before running water is restored to most Landers and Flamingo
``Those that do have (water) shouldn't drink it,'' says San Bernardino County Fire
Capt. Gary Hankins. Fire officials are providing fresh water at fire stations.
That's what Ed Pierce, 23, did for his elderly neighbors. They ``can't get water
for themselves,'' he said, loading his pickup truck with 10-gallon containers.
Residents also can go to a fire station to request that a member of the county's
Urban Search and Rescue Team escort them into their damaged homes to pick up
essentials and valuables or make sure the home is safe enough to live in.
``I'm not going to clean up yet,'' says Jack Day, 54, whose mobile home in
Landers straddles the fault line and has a bent frame to prove it. ``Not until I'm
sure the quakes have stopped.''
Contributing: Jonathan T. Lovitt
CUTLINE:GOOD MORNING: Paul Cohen, left, and Dana Baxter spent the
night in the back of a pickup truck in Big Bear Lake. Cohen's home was
damaged in Sunday's quake.
GRAPHIC;b/w, USA TODAY (Map,Calif.);PHOTO;b/w,Douglas C. Pizac,AP