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Memories of 1994

July 29, 2008 |  8:08 pm
In the San Fernando Valley, residents who were forced to move out of red-tagged apartment buildings, or lost valuable heirlooms in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, took Tuesday's temblor in stride. Most were California natives who said that they knew right away that the shaker wasn't close to home.
"In the Northridge quake there was a jolt and a very loud noise," said Marianne Mertzel, a retired mother of four, who recounted how she had just wrapped up remodeling her Northridge home when the temblor struck 14 years ago. "This one was more rolling, so I thought that the epicenter must be far away."
Jennifer Oldham, The Times' San Fernando Valley Bureau Chief, went back to Northridge and filed this dispatch:
A 41-year Northridge resident, Mertzel recounted how she had just unpacked all her precious china, vases and other breakables following an extensive remodeling of her home two weeks before the January 17 quake, only to lose everything when it struck.
Across Reseda Boulevard, the center of the devastation following the Northridge quake, a warm breeze lifted the lipstick pink flowers on crepe myrtle trees lining the entrance to the Parc Ridge apartment complex. The modern 100-unit structure stands on the site of the Northridge Meadows apartments, where 16 people were killed in 1994 after its second and third floors pancaked down on top of its bottom layer.
"I hadn't felt an earthquake for a while," said Daniel Mendoza, 28, a behavorial therapist who works with kids and is staying with friends at Parc Ridge before moving into an apartment up the street. "I was like, 'whatever.' What are you going to do? It's an earthquake."
Other students attending Cal State Northridge a few blocks away and living at Parc Ridge echoed Mendoza's nonchalance, saying they were children when the Northridge quake hit and aren't feeling any residual effects today.
Nearby at the Northridge Fashion Center, which was largely rebuilt following the 1994 quake, merchants joked about "earthquake sales," and a Banana Republic clerk said the store's computers had been "lagging every since the earth shook today."
At Gloria Jean's coffees, Woodland Hills resident Lori Lynn, 45, sipped a large iced coffee and recounted how memories of the devastation wrought on her Northridge apartment complex came flooding back to her when Tuesday's shaker hit.
"I was scared to death," she said, adding that she was forced to move out of her apartment 14 years ago while the landlord repaired the units, many of which sustained serious damage. "I was trying to move as quickly as I could to go outside."
-Jennifer Oldham