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Home » Thousands Still Without Power After California Earthquake

Thousands Still Without Power After California Earthquake

21 December 2022, Wednesday

Tens of thousands of households and businesses along the Northern California coastline were still without electricity on Tuesday night, almost a day after an intense quake jolted people awake and shook buildings off their foundations, leaving at least 12 wounded and many without water.

"It felt like my roof was going to collapse," Cassondra Stoner said. "The only thing I could consider was, 'Get the kids outta here!'"

Fortunately, Stoner's family were alright- her daughter even dozed off during all the commotion. Upon arriving to Dollar General, where she works, Stoner saw that ceiling slates had dropped, shelves were toppled, and the merchandise of the discount store were thrown all over the floor.
An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck Ferndale, a small town located around 210 miles (345 kilometers) northwest of San Francisco and close to the Pacific coast, at 2:34 a.m. Its epicenter was situated offshore at a depth of approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers), giving rise to multiple aftershocks.

By late Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric had been able to restore power to 40,000 customers from the initial 72,000 impacted by the quake. The utility said that it expected full power restoration within 24 hours.

Despite its location in the redwood forests, scenic mountains, and the Emerald Triangle of three counties renowned for its marijuana crop, the locals were especially rattled by this earthquake due to its more intense and worrying vibrations compared to the customary rolling motions.

Araceli Huerta, still shaken up some 10 hours later, exclaimed that the floor and walls were shaking, as if a freight train was going through her house. 

The impacts of the quake were still being assessed, although it seems minimal looking at the strength of it. Two hospitals in Humboldt County were left without power and running on generators.
The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, declared a state of emergency in Humboldt County on Tuesday evening.

At least 12 people sustained injuries as a result of the quake, with a broken hip and head wound among them, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office announced in a news conference. Tragically, two people perished, one aged 83 and the other 72, unable to receive assistance for medical emergencies during or right after the temblor.

Mark Ghilarducci, Emergency Services Director, stated in a news conference in Sacramento that damage was mostly concentrated in the small towns of Rio Dell, Ferndale, and Fortuna. In Rio Dell, where the damage was the only worst, at least 15 homes were heavily damaged and rendered uninhabitable and 18 others were moderately affected. It was estimated that 30 people were forced out of their homes but that figure could reach 150 when the full evaluation of the damage is complete.

The bridge over the Eel River, built in 1911 and the main route into Ferndale, was damaged and had to be closed to traffic, causing a longer detour through the mountains for those visiting the picturesque Victorian town - where Main Street is designated on the National Register of Historic Places. With the city's water system shut down for up to two days due to leaks, portable toilets were set up at City Hall, while water was being distributed at the fire house.

Caroline Titus, the former proprietor of the Ferndale Enterprise newspaper, reported that only a few storefront windows had been broken due to the earthquake. Her 140-year-old house, however, had experienced more significant damage: Plants were knocked over, the coffee bar crashed to the ground, pictures fell from the wall and books were scattered from shelves. She noted that, since the magnitude 7.2 quake in 1992 destroyed many homes and injured hundreds, much more stringent building codes have since been enforced to make structures more resilient to shaking. Despite this, Titus said that she always wondered, “Is this the one? Is this the nine-pointer?”

The Rio Dell Fire Department, run by volunteers, had difficulty responding to around six dozen calls – including two fires – due to the fact that the garage doors had been knocked off their hinges and had to be forced open. This is similar to what happened in Petrolia after the 1992 quake, when the firehouse garage door stuck, thus trapping the fire engines and allowing homes to burn.

The power outage was caused by the main transmission line going into the region, and Pacific Gas & Electric Company's restoration process was hampered by the rain, which disallowed the use of a helicopter to survey the destruction. This was revealed by state Senator Mike McGuire, who represents the area.

Dennis Leonardi drove through the evening from the San Francisco Bay Area to return to his dairy farm in Ferndale, only to discover he had to take a long detour due to a bridge being out. After the quake, which shook nearly all his drawers open and caused his furniture and appliances to move away from their wall anchors, Leonardi spent two hours cleaning up the glass that had scattered. He noted that his cows appeared to be fine, although they were probably frightened by the noise of everything shaking.

Larkin O'Leary, 41, of Santa Rosa, had traveled to Ferndale to spend her anniversary with her husband; a place they had been jolted by an earthquake the year prior. Deciding to give it another try, they booked the romance package at a historical inn. Humboldt County, located in a seismic area, has around 136,000 residents and has suffered large earthquakes in the past, such as a 7.0 magnitude quake in 1980 and a 6.8 in 2014, according to the California Earthquake Authority.

O'Leary stated that she had woken at 2:30 a.m. with a creepy sensation and had endeavoured to fall asleep again. She then relayed that it was "as if someone had jumped on the bed", a feeling she described as "so terrifying" due to the shaking "up, down, all around". Subsequently, they returned to their home with a firm conviction to never again experience such an event.

This earthquake had occurred in the Mendocino Triple Junction, an area where three tectonic plates converge. Lori Dengler, a professor emeritus of geology at Cal Poly Humboldt, commented that this is a "moment of geologic time" where Humboldt County and the neighbouring offshore area are the "most exciting, dynamic" in the state of California.

A huge reaction was elicited by the West Coast's alert system in response to the earthquake on Tuesday. This system is designed to detect the onset of a quake and send notifications to cellular phones of those within the affected area, giving them an opportunity to take precautionary measures prior to strong vibrations reaching them.

About 3 million people in Northern California were warned of the quake through the warnings sent out by the system. This comes shortly after a magnitude 3.6 earthquake occurred in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, causing minor harm and waking up thousands of people before 4 am.

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