No water. No power. Damaged buildings. California towns struggle after 6.4 earthquake

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No water. No power. Damaged buildings. California towns struggle after 6.4 earthquake

A collapsed deck outside a home.

BY NOAH GOLDBERG

SUMMER LINALEXANDRA E. PETRILAUREL ROSENHALL

DEC. 20, 2022 11:54 AM PT

Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes was jolted awake by the Humboldt County earthquake Tuesday.

“It was the most intense earthquake that I’ve felt,” the mayor of the small Northern California city told The Times. “It was a long-duration earthquake, so it was not only significant in size at 6.4, it was also long.”

She then had to get to work, coordinating with Rio Dell’s building department and volunteer fire department to check on structural integrity of homes as well as the dozens of emergency calls that were flooding in from residents.

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Garnes said that about 60 emergency calls came through in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Most of the injuries in Rio Dell were minor, she said. There was one fatality during the earthquake, but it is unclear whether or how it may have been related to the tremors.

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The mayor said a call came in after the earthquake about someone who was having difficulty breathing. The person went into cardiac arrest, and emergency medical personnel performed CPR.

The person was taken to a hospital but did not survive.

“The fire chief can’t say yet that it was caused by the earthquake,” Garnes said, “but it was during the earthquake.”

On Tuesday at midmorning, building inspectors were moving through Rio Dell checking on the structural integrity of houses and other structures, Garnes said.

City officials expect about 50 to 150 people to be displaced by the earthquake. Those who are displaced will be taken in at Monument Middle School, if the school is structurally sound.

Otherwise, people will be housed at the Fire Hall, she said. Like the rest of Humboldt County, Rio Dell currently has no power, but the city also has no water, Garnes said.

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“Our biggest issues are no electricity and no water. Structural damage is the next thing on the list,” she said. “Our water system got really wrecked. So many leaks.”

The quake was reported at 2:34 a.m. about 7½ miles southwest of Ferndale, Calif. It caused damage to structures in areas south of Eureka and several injuries. More than 70,000 customers are w

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