Merchandise is scattered on the floor of a Albertson’s grocery store Saturday, July 6, 2019 following a earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif. The Friday night quake preceded by Thursday’s temblor was the largest Southern California quake in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks, including a few above magnitude 5.0. ( AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Merchandise is scattered on the floor of a Albertson’s grocery store Saturday, July 6, 2019 following a earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif. The Friday night quake preceded by Thursday’s temblor was the largest Southern California quake in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks, including a few above magnitude 5.0. ( AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

California governor says earthquakes are a ‘wakeup call’

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that governments must strengthen alert systems and building codes

The two major earthquakes that hit Southern California should alert people across the nation of the need to be prepared for natural disasters, the state’s governor said as officials expressed relief that the damages weren’t worse.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that governments must strengthen alert systems and building codes, and residents should make sure they know how to protect themselves during an earthquake.

“It is a wake-up call for the rest of the state and other parts of the nation, frankly,” Newsom said at a news conference to update the public on the state’s efforts to help the region hit by earthquakes on Thursday and Friday.

Friday’s earthquake was the largest one Southern California in nearly 20 years. Officials voiced concerns about the possibility of major aftershocks in the days and even months to come.

READ MORE: Southern California jolted by biggest quake in 20 years

No fatalities or major injuries were reported after the 7.1-magnitude quake, which jolted an area from Sacramento to Mexico and prompted the evacuation of the Navy’s largest single landholding, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in the Mojave Desert.

The quake struck at 8:19 p.m. Friday and was centred 11 miles (18 kilometres) from Ridgecrest, the same area of the desert where a 6.4-magnitude temblor hit on Thursday. It left behind cracked and burning buildings, broken roads, obstructed railroad tracks and leaking water and gas lines.

The light damage was largely due to the remoteness of the area where the earthquake occurred, but Newsom cautioned after touring Ridgecrest that “it’s deceiving, earthquake damage. You don’t notice it at first.”

Newsom estimated more than $100 million in economic damage and said President Donald Trump called him to offer federal support in the rebuilding effort.

“He’s committed in the long haul, the long run, to help support the rebuilding efforts,” Newsom said of Trump.

Only 28,000 people live in the Ridgecrest area, which is sandwiched between more populated areas of Southern California and Las Vegas’ Clark County. But seismologists warned that the area could see up to 30,000 aftershocks over the next six months.

April Hamlin said she was “already on edge” when the second quake rattled her Ridgecrest home. She and her three kids initially thought it was another aftershock.

“But it just kept on intensifying,” Hamlin said. “The TV went over, hanging by the cord. We heard it break. We heard glass breakage in the other rooms, but all we could do was stay where we were until it stopped.”

With the possibility of aftershocks and temperatures forecast to reach 100 degrees (38 Celsius) over the next several days, officials were taking precautions.

The California National Guard was sending 200 troops, logistical support and aircraft, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin said. The Pentagon had been notified, and the entire California Military Department was put on alert, he said.

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake said in a Facebook post that nonessential workers were evacuated and operations halted. The epicenters of both quakes were on the base, and officials said they are continuing to assess damage. Officials said most employees live off the base and in Ridgecrest, but they authorized the evacuation so those who live on base can be eligible for reimbursements.

The California Office of Emergency Services brought in cots, water and meals and set up cooling centres in the region, Director Mark Ghilarducci said.

State highway officials shut down a 30-mile (48-kilometre) section of State Route 178 between Ridgecrest and the town of Trona southwest of Death Valley because of a rockslide and severe cracking. The move left Trona temporarily cut off. California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Christine Knadler said crews worked through the night to patch the roadway, but it remained rough and uneven.

Ron Mikulaco, 51, and his nephew, 23-year-old Brad Fernandez, stood on 178 on Saturday looking at the cracks. The pair drove from Huntington Beach, about 170 miles (274 kilometres) southwest of Ridgecrest. Mikulaco, an amateur geologist, wanted to show his nephew “the power of Mother Nature,” and they had the epicenter’s latitude and longitude co-ordinates ready.

“We put that in the GPS, and we’ll get as close as we can,” Fernandez said.

In Ridgecrest, local fire and police officials said they were initially swamped by calls for medical and ambulance service. But police Chief Jed McLaughlin said there was “nothing but minor injuries such as cuts and bruises, by the grace of God.”

Two building fires — one involving a mobile home — were quickly doused, McLaughlin said, and natural gas lines where leaks were reported were shut off.

When asked to describe what he has been going through in the past two days, the chief said: “Grief, shock and then, for me, pride in what I’ve seen from here, my people. It’s been a vast range of emotions, and I think the whole community’s going through that.”

In Trona, a town of about 2,000 people considered the gateway to Death Valley, fire officials said up to 50 structures were damaged. San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood said FEMA delivered a tractor-trailer full of bottled water because of damage to water lines. Newsom declared a state of emergency for the county.

Julia Doss, who maintains the Trona Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook, said the only food store in town is a Family Dollar store that was shuttered Saturday.

“The only way to get food is to drive to Ridgecrest, and with only three gas stations in town I’m worried we may soon run out of fuel,” Doss said.

Antoun Abdullatif, 59, owns liquor stores and other businesses in Ridgecrest and Trona.

“I would say 70% of my inventory is on the floor, broken,” he said. “Every time you sweep and you put stuff in the dust bin, you’re putting $200 in the trash.”

But he has stopped cleaning up, believing another earthquake is on the way.

Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology and a former science adviser at the U.S. Geological Survey, said the new quake probably ruptured along about 25 miles (40 kilometres) of fault line and was part of a continuing sequence. The seismic activity is unlikely to affect fault lines outside of the area, Jones said, noting that the gigantic San Andreas Fault is far away.

Egill Hauksson, another Caltech seismologist, said later in the day that scientists believe the continuing sequence could produce more than 30,000 quakes of magnitude 1 or greater over six months. He said the probability of a magnitude 7 over the next week is about 3%, but one or two magnitude 6 quakes are expected.

___

Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Nguyen reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City, Juliet Williams in San Francisco, Adam Beam in Sacramento, Stefanie Dazio and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles, Tarek Hamada in Phoenix, and Associated Press freelancer Jolene Latimer in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

John Antczak, Daisy Nguyen And Marcio Jose Sanchez, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Taking part in the Business Recovery and Expansion Program offered by the Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network has been a re-energizing experience for Wildwood Flower Emporium owner Ellen Gonella of Salmon Arm. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Making connections: Salmon Arm business owner re-energized by free local program

Applications being accepted for Business Recovery and Expansion Program

The Okanagan’s first virtual wedding fair will be held Saturday, March 27. {Paul Rodgers photo)
Okanagan to host virtual wedding fair

Okanagan wine country is No. 1 destination for weddings - online event set for March 27

Vernon Search and Rescue, with help from the Air Rescue One helicopter out of Wildcat Helicopters in Kelowna, and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, were able to transport an injured snowmobiler to Vernon Regional Airport, where he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital with a serious, painful back injury. (Facebook photo)
Okanagan helicopter rescue teams called to retrieve injured sledder at Greystokes

Vernon and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue help load injured man into waiting helicopter

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two separate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent must come first and last for B.C. industrial projects

UN declaration seen as end to a history of horror stories

FILE  - In this Friday, Jan 1, 2021 file photo, a lorry driver's documents are scanned on a phone as he passes a checkpoint for the train through the Eurotunnel link with Europe in Folkestone, England. One month after Britain made a New Year split from the European Union's economic embrace, businesses that once traded freely are getting used to frustrating checks, delays and red tape. Meat exporters say shipments have rotted in trucks awaiting European health checks. Scottish fishermen have protested at Parliament over the catch they can no longer sell to the continent because of byzantine new paperwork. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
FINLAYSON: Government should focus on strengthening B.C.’s leading export industries

To revive the economy, this piece in the strategy is integral, writes Jock Finlayson

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

(Contributed)
Kelowna flight potentially exposed to COVID-19

Third case on a local flight this month, compared to 14 through January

Most Read