Dorothea Boyd

first_img“I’m on the way to the hospital” she cries. “Loren is hurt. The house is gone.” Four-year-old Loren was in bed when the roof collapsed. He was covered in four feet of debris. A hundred people sat on chairs in the hospital parking lot. Loren escaped with a broken collar bone. Silent and stoic later he told his mother, “I could hear you calling me. I knew you would save me. I could see a little bit of light.” On the second night, seven of us slept on a lawn in South Whittier to awaken at 4 a.m. to the earth moving beneath us. A friend brought doughnuts and coffee as we awaited for dawn. Where to live? The little family without a home, moved in with me, three children and two parents lived in one large bedroom with two double beds, huge antique furniture, and even a dining room table. Limited space in the front room from broken pipes and three days of undetected leaks had covered the basement in three feet of water, books, magazines floating, a sodden mess amidst hundreds of buzz flies attracted by the excessive heat. Slowly the house took on some of its former persona and we settled in for two years with our extended family as they awaited the completion of their replacement home. Looking back over 20 years, those were some of my happiest days with the three grandchildren and their loving parents sharing my life and my home. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! We looked in the living room, which appeared to be filled with smoke. Not a fire. It was the chimney and 60 years of soot rising from the ruins. A bright blue sky gleamed through the wall and gaping chimney piece. Collapsed furniture, pictures, china covered the floor. The kitchen floor was barely walkable, and I crunched my way to the flooded back porch, hot water pouring from the tank amongst broken bottles of sauces and syrups. As I made my way outside, I turned off the gas with the help of a thoughtful neighbor. Then the real impact of the earthquake hit me. My daughter arrived, breathless, with her three small children. Waking up to the rumble and the crashing, I rolled out of bed and curled up on the floor as glass from a dozen framed pictures fell around me. The house somewhat settled, and I thought: “I must dress and go to work. We will be needed to help.” (I was secretary at the local church, First Friends.) I couldn’t get out of my door. The hall was littered. I climbed out the window, and my son came downstairs stepping over 1,000 books. “That was a big one,” he understated. And he began making a pathway through a collapsed cabinet and broken china, pieces of precious hummels scattered throughout the rubble. last_img

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