After Earthquake, Governor Jerry Brown Declares State Of Emergency In California
Following an enormous 6.0 magnitude earthquake, Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for southern Napa. The quake's epicenter, about six miles southwest of Napa, created shockwaves that were felt throughout northern California when it struck at around 3:20 a.m. local time.
The strongest to hit the region in a quarter of a century, the earthquake is reported to have left 64,000 individuals without power, injured nearly 90 people, and severely damaged a number of historic buildings.
Luckily, there are no reports of any deaths resulting from the earthquake, although three patients in Napa's local hospital are in critical condition. One of them, a child, was hurt when the chimney in his house collapsed on top of him. Many of the other patients have suffered little more than minor cuts and bruises, though the damage sustained by their houses is likely much more severe.
In an interview with local news station KCRA3, a 20-year-old college student named Eduardo Rivera said that the tremors caused his house to shake so violently that he could not get out of his bed without being knocked back into it.
When I woke up, my mom was screaming and the sounds from the earthquake was greater than my mom's screams.
A news conference held early Sunday morning by local officials revealed that there are "at least 30 water main breaks, 100-plus gas leaks and dozens of 'red tagged' buildings that are too dangerous to enter."
The state of emergency was declared following Napa's announcement that they were unable to effectively respond to damages caused by the earthquake independently. Napa Fire Department Operations Chief John Callanan told the Star Tribune that local authorities had "exhausted [their] own resources" after fighting six fires, moving injured residents out of harms way and into healthcare facilities, and performing multiple search and rescue missions.
With the sheer number of gas leaks, water breaks, and downed power lines, Napa is simply unequipped to handle the situation alone.
Napa Fire Captain Doug Bridewell told KCRA, "There's collapses, fires...That's the worst shaking I've ever been in."
Though the earthquake itself was brief, its severity was enough to make a few seconds feel like a lifetime. Franz Oehler told the New York Times,
It was about 10 seconds of total chaos. My girlfriend and I were thrown up in the air and the window exploded.
Diana Martini, a resident of Vallejo, about 15 miles south of Napa, told ABC News,
I was alone in the house so I didn't know what to do — and the first thing when it stopped I ran under the table and tried to get cover because it's the first thing they say to do for an earthquake is get under the table. I'm on the first floor, so that was the scariest thing. I thought the building was going to come down.
While Martini's home survived the quake, other buildings did not fare as well, particularly older, historic buildings. Even though the county courthouse had been reinforced with steel, the earthquake nearly destroyed the building.
Napa, known to the rest of the US as wine country, suffered several broken bottles. A wine store called the Ranch Market had its stock nearly obliterated, as all of its wine fell off the shelves and shattered on the floor.
Arik Housley, who owns both the Ranch Market and another Napa store, estimated that he lost nearly $100,000 in merchandise, according to the Times. Restaurants faced similar dilemmas, as employees spent the early morning hours cleaning up broken glassware and plates.
Happily, many of the roadways leading in and out of Napa seem to maintained structural integrity, with Tamie McGowen, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation, telling the Times, "No abnormalities have been found on any of the bridges at this time."
Residents have also been informed that their drinking water remains safe, which comes as a huge relief to the parched state.
Although the initial quake was followed by up to 70 aftershocks, one with a formidable 3.6 magnitude, none seem to have caused extensive damage to surrounding areas.
According to the United States Geological Survey, this latest earthquake is the strongest one to hit the continental United States this year. All other comparable quakes have been in Alaska, and at least four more earthquakes of this magnitude (or stronger) are expected to strike before the conclusion of 2014.
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