California governor says earthquakes are a ‘wakeup call’

"It is a wake-up call for the rest of the state and other parts of the nation, frankly"
California governor says earthquakes are a ‘wakeup call’

The two major earthquakes that hit Southern Californiashould alert people across the nation of the need to be prepared for naturaldisasters, the state's governor said as officials expressed relief that thedamages weren't worse.

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

"It is a wake-up call for the rest of the state andother parts of the nation, frankly," Newsom said at a news conference toupdate the public on the state's efforts to help the region hit by earthquakeson Thursday and Friday.

Friday's earthquake was the largest one Southern Californiain nearly 20 years. Officials voiced concerns about the possibility of majoraftershocks in the days and even months to come.

No fatalities or major injuries were reported after the7.1-magnitude quake, which jolted an area from Sacramento to Mexico andprompted the evacuation of the Navy's largest single landholding, Naval AirWeapons Station China Lake in the Mojave Desert.

The quake struck at 8:19 p.m. Friday and was centered 11miles (18 kilometers) from Ridgecrest, the same area of the desert where a6.4-magnitude temblor hit on Thursday. It left behind cracked and burningbuildings, broken roads, obstructed railroad tracks and leaking water and gaslines.

The light damage was largely due to the remoteness of thearea where the earthquake occurred, but Newsom cautioned after touringRidgecrest that "it's deceiving, earthquake damage. You don't notice it atfirst."

Newsom estimated more than USD 100 million in economicdamages and said President Donald Trump called him to offer federal support inthe rebuilding effort.

"He's committed in the long haul, the long run, to helpsupport the rebuilding efforts," Newsom said of Trump.

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

April Hamlin said she was "already on edge" whenthe second quake rattled her Ridgecrest home. She and her three kids initiallythought 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 glassbreakage in the other rooms, but all we could do was stay where we were untilit stopped."

With the possibility of aftershocks and temperaturesforecast 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 hadbeen notified, and the entire California Military Department was put on alert,he said.

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake said in a Facebook postthat nonessential workers were evacuated and operations halted. The epicentersof both quakes were on the base, and officials said they are continuing toassess damage.

Officials said most employees live off the base and inRidgecrest, but they authorized the evacuation so those who live on base can beeligible for reimbursements.

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

State highway officials shut down a 30-mile (48-kilometer)section of State Route 178 between Ridgecrest and the town of Trona southwestof Death Valley because of a rockslide and severe cracking.

The move left Trona temporarily cut off. CaliforniaDepartment of Transportation spokeswoman Christine Knadler said crews workedthrough the night to patch the roadway, but it remained rough and uneven.

Ron Mikulaco, 51, and his nephew, 23-year-old BradFernandez, stood on 178 on Saturday looking at the cracks. The pair drove fromHuntington Beach, about 170 miles (274 kilometers) southwest of Ridgecrest.

Mikulaco, an amateur geologist, wanted to show his nephew"the power of Mother Nature," and they had the epicenter's latitudeand longitude coordinates ready.

"We put that in the GPS, and we'll get as close as wecan," Fernandez said.

In Ridgecrest, local fire and police officials said theywere initially swamped by calls for medical and ambulance service. But policeChief Jed McLaughlin said there was "nothing but minor injuries such ascuts and bruises, by the grace of God."

Two building fires one involving a mobile home were quicklydoused, McLaughlin said, and natural gas lines where leaks were reported wereshut off.

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

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

Julia Doss, who maintains the Trona Neighborhood Watch pageon Facebook, said the only food store in town is a Family Dollar store that wasshuttered Saturday.

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