Tuesday evening, nearly a day after a strong earthquake shocked many awake, rattled homes off foundations, injured at least 12, and left many without water, tens of thousands of homes and businesses along the Northern California coast remained without power. Cassondra Stoner recalled feeling like her roof was about to collapse. I was only able to think, “Get the friggin kids,” at the time.
Stoner’s family was unharmed when the ground stopped shifting; one daughter even slept through the commotion. But when she arrived for work at Dollar General, she discovered that shelves had collapsed, tiles had fallen from the roof, and the merchandise in the bargain store she oversees was all over the floor.
A little town located close to the Pacific coast and around 210 miles (345 kilometers) northwest of San Francisco had a magnitude 6.4 earthquake at 2:34 in the morning. Just offshore, at a depth of roughly 10 miles, was the epicenter (16 kilometers). There were lots of aftershocks.
By late Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric had restored power to nearly 40,000 customers, more than half of the initial 72,000 affected. The utility stated that it anticipated a complete restoration of power within 24 hours.
Earthquakes are a common occurrence for locals in the region famed for its redwood forests, picturesque mountains, and the fabled marijuana crop grown in the Emerald Triangle’s three counties. However, several people claimed that this was more violent and frightening than the regular rolling motion they feel.
Araceli Huerta, who was still shaken ten hours later, remarked that she could see the floor and walls moving. “My house sounded like it was being run through by a freight train.”
Infrastructure and building damage was still being evaluated. According to Brian Ferguson, a representative for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, two hospitals in Humboldt County lost electricity and were operating on generators, although the extent of the damage appeared to be minor in comparison to the magnitude of the earthquake.
On Tuesday night, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Humboldt County.
At a news conference that was abruptly cut short by a powerful aftershock, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said that about 12 individuals had been hurt, including one with a broken hip and another with a head wound. An 83-year-old and a 72-year-old perished because they were unable to receive prompt medical attention for “medical problems” during or shortly after the earthquake.
During a press conference in Sacramento, Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci stated that damage was primarily concentrated in the tiny towns of Rio Dell, Ferndale, and Fortuna.
After a partial inspection, officials said that at least 15 homes in Rio Dell, a hamlet of roughly 3,000 people where the damage was worst, were severely damaged and ruled uninhabitable, and 18 others were moderately damaged. After calculating the full extent of the damage, they predicted that 150 persons could become homeless, up from their initial estimate of 30.
Two people dead, tens of thousands without power after California earthquake https://t.co/tYbw6VoeW4
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Leaks caused the city’s water system to need repairs for as long as two days. At City Hall, portable restrooms were set up, and at the fire station, water was being distributed.
The major crossing over the Eel River, completed in 1911, was damaged and rendered impassable, necessitating a long detour over the mountains to get to the beautiful Victorian village, whose Main Street is entirely listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Only a few storefront windows were broken by the earthquake, according to Caroline Titus, the former owner of the Ferndale Enterprise newspaper. Her 140-year-old house was destroyed, with books falling off shelves, artwork falling off the wall, plants overturned, and her coffee bar crashing to the ground.
Titus remarked, “It’s all just the kind of injury that hurts like hell.”
Building standards have forced retrofits to make structures far more resistant to the shaking since a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in the region in 1992 injured hundreds, started fires, and damaged many homes, Titus said.
Still, she claimed, every powerful tremor brings about the same anxiety: “Is this the one? This is the nine-pointer, right?
The volunteer Rio Dell Fire Department originally took longer to respond to 60 complaints, including two fires, in a repeat of the 1992 earthquake because the garage doors were off the hinges and needed to be pried open, according to Chief Shane Wilson. Homes in the surrounding Petrolia burnt three decades ago as a result of the firehouse garage door jamming and trapping the engines inside.
According to state senator Mike McGuire, who represents the area, the primary transmission line that enters the area was affected by the power loss, and Pacific Gas & Electric’s restoration efforts were hindered because rain precluded the use of a helicopter to examine the damage.
According to the California Earthquake Authority, Humboldt County is home to around 136,000 people and is located in a region of the state with a long history of strong earthquakes, including ones of magnitude 7.0 in 1980 and 6.8 in 2014.
Dennis Leonardi left the San Francisco Bay Area in the middle of the night to return to his dairy farm in Ferndale, but he had to take a long detour since the bridge was closed.
After the earthquake rattled practically every drawer in his home open, toppled a dresser, and tugged furniture and appliances out of their earthquake-safe locations against the wall, Leonardi spent two hours cleaning up the glass. A refrigerator and freezer “shimmied its way across” the garage, while a glass cabinet filled with relics, decorations, and family photos “walked itself” away from a wall.
He said that his herd appeared to be in good shape but that the noise of things “bouncing around” had probably scared them. “The cows were just dancing to some rock and roll today,” he stated.
Larkin O’Leary, 41, of Santa Rosa made the trip to Ferndale to spend her anniversary with her husband after being shaken by an earthquake there the previous year. They made the decision to give it another shot and reserved the romance package at the same old historic inn.
O’Leary claimed that at about 2:30 in the morning, she tried to fall back asleep after feeling uneasy.
She remarked, “I laid down again and it felt almost like someone leaped on the bed. It was quite horrifying. It trembled in a way I had never before felt. All around, it was up and down.
The couple left Ferndale shortly and went back to their house.
O’Leary remarked, “Never again.
The Mendocino Triple Junction, where three tectonic plates converge, is where the earthquake struck.
According to Lori Dengler, retired professor of geology at Cal Poly Humboldt, “we’re in this period of geologic time where the most interesting, active area of California happens to be Humboldt County and the neighboring offshore area.”
The earthquake prompted a large response from the West Coast’s warning system, which may advise people to take safety steps in the seconds before significant shaking reaches them by detecting the beginning of an earthquake and sending warnings to smartphones in the impacted zone.
About 3 million individuals in Northern California received notifications from the system early on Tuesday, according to officials.
Only a few days prior, a smaller earthquake of magnitude 3.6 that woke up thousands of people early on Saturday morning and caused only minimal damage shook the San Francisco Bay Area.
Reporting from Los Angeles was Antczak. This story was authored by Associated Press writers Sophie Austin in Sacramento, Amy Taxin in Orange County, and Brian Melley in Los Angeles.