Violent earthquake in California damages homes, loses power

RIO DELL, California –

A powerful earthquake rocked the Northern California coast early Tuesday morning, jolting residents awake as it shattered glass, shook floors, damaged roads and left nearly 60,000 homes and Business establishments in rural areas do not have electricity and many places do not have water. At least 12 people were injured.

Cassondra Stoner said: ‘It felt like my roof was going to collapse. “The only thing I can think of is, ‘Catch the weird kids.”‘

When the ground stopped moving, Stoner’s family was fine – one daughter even slept through the racket. But when she went to work at Dollar General, she discovered tiles falling from the ceiling, shelves spilled and furniture from the discount store she managed strewn on the floor.

The magnitude 6.4 quake struck at 2:34 a.m. near Ferndale, a small community about 210 miles (345 km) northwest of San Francisco and near the Pacific coast. The epicenter was located offshore at a depth of about 10 miles (16 km). Many aftershocks followed.

Residents of the area are known for their redwood forests, beautiful mountains, and the legendary cannabis cultivation of the Emerald Triangle of three counties that are accustomed to earthquakes. But many say this is more violent and terrifying than the usual rolling motion they experience.

“You could see the floor and the walls shaking,” said Araceli Huerta, who was still shaking about 10 hours later. “It looks like a freight train is passing my house.”

Damage to buildings and infrastructure is still being assessed. Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said two hospitals in Humboldt County were without power and were running on generators, but the extent of the damage appeared to be minimal compared to the strength of the power. strength of the earthquake.

About 12 people were reported injuries, including hip fractures and head injuries, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference interrupted by a jarring aftershock. Two people died – an 83-year-old and a 72-year-old – because they did not receive prompt “emergency medical” care during or shortly after the quake.

The damage was mainly concentrated in the small communities of Rio Dell, Ferndale and Fortuna, Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said during a press conference in Sacramento.

In Rio Dell, a village of about 3,000 people, which suffered the most damage, at least 15 homes were severely damaged and deemed uninhabitable, with 18 others moderately damaged, officials said after a partial assessment. They estimated 30 people had to be evacuated and this number could increase to 150 after a full estimate of the damage.

The city’s water system was closed for repairs for two days because of a leak. Portable toilets were set up at City Hall and water was distributed at the firehouse.

A bridge over the River Eel built in 1911, the main route to Ferndale, was damaged and impassable, requiring a longer detour through the mountains to reach the old town. Victorian glass, where the entire Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Caroline Titus, former owner of the Ferndale Enterprise newspaper, said the quake only broke some windows on the storefronts. At her 140-year-old home, trees fell, her coffee bar fell to the floor, pictures fell off the walls and books fell off shelves.

“It was all a little bit of damage,” Titus said. Since the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area in 1992, hundreds of people have been injured, causing fires and destroying many homes, so building codes have required retrofits to do the job. for much stronger buildings, says Titus.

Still, she says, every strong earthquake evokes the same fear: “Is this one. Is this a nine-pointer?”

During the 1992 earthquake, the initial Rio Dell Fire Department volunteer was delayed in responding to about 60 calls, including two fires because the garage door was broken, said Sheriff Shane Wilson. popped out of the hinge and had to be pry open. Three decades ago, houses in nearby Petrolia caught fire because the firehouse’s garage door jammed and the engine inside.

State Senator Mike McGuire, who represents the region, said the outage involved the main transmission line running into the area and Pacific Gas & Electric’s restoration work was delayed as rain prevented the Use helicopters to assess damage.

The company said it expected power back up within 24 hours, but 57,000 customers were still without power by mid-afternoon.

Humboldt County has about 136,000 residents and is part of a state with a long history of large earthquakes, including a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 1980 and a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in 2014, according to the U. California Earthquake Department.

Dennis Leonardi drove all night from the San Francisco Bay Area to his dairy farm in Ferndale, and then had to travel the long way because the bridge was broken.

Leonardi spent two hours cleaning glass after the earthquake rocked nearly every drawer in his home that was opened, tossing wardrobes and tossing furniture and appliances from where they were anchored to the wall to ensure earthquake safety. A glass cabinet of mementos, decorations and family photos “goes away” from the wall and a fridge and freezer “glitters” in the driveway of the garage.

“The cows just danced to rock and roll today,” he said, noting that his herd seemed fine but was probably spooked by the noise of everything “bouncing around.” around”.

Larkin O’Leary, 41, of Santa Rosa, was traveling to celebrate her anniversary with her husband in Ferndale, where they were rocked by an earthquake last year. They decide to try again and book the romance package at a historic inn, the same location as a year ago.

O’Leary said she woke up at 2:30 a.m. with a strange feeling and tried to get back to sleep.

“I lay down again and almost someone jumped on the bed,” she said. “It’s scary. … It’s rocking in a way I’ve never experienced before. It’s up and down, all around.”

The couple quickly left Ferndale and returned to their home.

“Never again,” O’Leary said.

The quake struck in an area known as the Mendocino Triple Junction, where three tectonic plates meet.

“We’re in a geological moment where California’s most exciting, dynamic region is Humboldt County and the surrounding offshore area,” said Lori Dengler, professor emeritus of geology at Cal Poly Humboldt. .

The quake triggered a massive response as the West Coast’s warning system detects the onset of an earthquake and sends an alert to mobile phones in the affected area that can notify people. to take safety precautions for a few seconds before strong tremors reach them.

Officials said the system had issued warnings to about 3 million people in Northern California early Tuesday.

The quake comes just days after a small magnitude 3.6 quake struck the San Francisco Bay Area, waking thousands of people before 4 a.m. Saturday and causing minor damage.

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