...a 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the San Gabriel Valley.
The Whittier Narrows earthquake, as it came to be known, wasn't the biggest earthquake in California history; it doesn't crack the top seven, or even the top fifty. But it still did some pretty dramatic damage:
Since this was an earthquake rather than a hurricane, those who lived through it had to deal with problems like gas and water main breaks on top of the above-ground destruction. Also, it trapped office workers in elevators, crushed people under concrete, and threw them out of windows. At least three of the people who died in the quake were killed by heart attacks. As in, they were literally scared to death. And that was a relatively moderate earthquake.
I'll end this post by noting that Whittier, the town most affected by the quake, was apparently "best known as the boyhood home of Richard M. Nixon" at the time. Take from that what you will.