Business owners work to repair damage from quake

Apr 6 2010 - 7:31pm

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(The Associated Press) Antonio Garcia sweeps up broken vases and glasses at the 99 Cent Store in Calexico, Calif. on Monday. The damage done in Calexico from Sunday's earthquake was mainly along Second Street in the downtown area, where big glass windows were shattered.
(The Associated Press) Antonio Garcia sweeps up broken vases and glasses at the 99 Cent Store in Calexico, Calif. on Monday. The damage done in Calexico from Sunday's earthquake was mainly along Second Street in the downtown area, where big glass windows were shattered.

SLIDESHOW: Baja Earthquake Cleanup Efforts

CALEXICO, Calif. -- Business owners in Calexico are working to repair damage to their stores and trying to resume some sense of normalcy following one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in decades.

Businesses already were suffering from the hard economic times on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border when Sunday's deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake shattered storefronts, caved in roofs and caused Calexico's vital international port of entry for vehicles to shut down.

Calexico, the U.S. city hit hardest by the quake, has one of the highest unemployment rates in California, and business owners say even after they repair the damages to their stores, it could take months or longer for the economy to bounce back.

The port of entry was closed because of damage to a federal building and will not open until engineers finish inspecting it. No date was set for when the port will reopen to vehicle traffic, and for now drivers who want to enter the United States must go 10 miles out of their way to another border crossing.

Inspectors red-tagged nearly 80 percent of the city's historic downtown area Monday. Yellow police tape lined the streets of the city's downtown littered with broken glass and fallen plaster from the prewar buildings.

City Manager Victor Carrillo said the damage will easily total millions of dollars.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency Monday for Imperial County, which will free up state resources to aid the recovery effort.

"We're going to be hurting for a while," said Polo Loo, whose grocery store was littered with merchandise on the floor. "The economy was not great already and with this, it is going to be even worse."

Damage included three huge tanks that hold the water supply for the city of about 38,000 residents, as well as a 10 million-gallon water-clarifying tank, Carrillo said. Officials were pushing for federal money to come quickly before the desert city's temperatures soar above 110 degrees this summer, he added.

Two people were killed and at least 100 injured near the epicenter of the huge quake in Mexicali, just south of the border.

Dozens of aftershocks have rattled the region.

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Associated Press Writer Elliot Spagat in Mexicali contributed to this report.

 

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