RIDGECREST, Ca. — Millions of people in Southern California are on edge and worried about their safety after two large earthquakes and more than 4,000 aftershocks. The powerful, damaging quakes rocked the small desert town of Ridgecrest, 110 miles north of Los Angeles. Some people there are so worried, they are refusing to sleep indoors.
California’s governor is calling the seismic activity a wake-up call. Scientists are warning that a similar sized quake in a major city like San Francisco or Los Angeles could have been catastrophic.
Life is beginning to return to normal but the shock for residents in and around Ridgecrest where a 7.1 magnitude earthquake sent items flying off store shelves and people scrambling, still hasn’t worn off. Police say all the roads are safe and water and power have been restored but experts warn aftershocks may rattle the community for weeks.
At a town hall Sunday, local officials tried to reassure the shaken community with the steps they’re taking.
“Still nervous. It hasn’t settled. Every time the ground starts shaking, the mind goes back,” said California resident Bob Bloudek.
“PTSD is a real thing,” warned Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin. “And we’re all suffering from it right now … we have teams coming in that will help us with that.”
When the 7.1 quake hit, brick chimneys didn’t stand a chance. Homeowner Marilyn McKee was inside her home when her chimney collapsed. Her husband spent Sunday trying to prevent any more damage from aftershocks.
“This was so awakening to what an earthquake can really do,” he said.
Flavio Montes and his family are so rattled they’ve decided to sleep outside of a Red Cross shelter. His daughter and her friend say it’ll be awhile before they’re ready to return home.
“We ended up coming out here because my kids went in, every time a little shake would happen, they would just start panicking,” Montes said.
His daughter and their friends said they feel safer sleeping outside because nothing there will fall on them.
After two major earthquakes, authorities call it a miracle nobody was killed or seriously injured. Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said the town was built with earthquake precautionary measures in mind – and they did make a difference.
While some people may still be too afraid to be indoors, the good news is the USGS says there is now just a one percent chance of another magnitude seven or higher earthquake in the next week. The chances of another magnitude six quake is also diminishing.