California towns analyze quake damages surrounded by more aftershocks

California earth quake

Cities in the Mojave Desert sand tallied damage and then made emergency situation repairs to destroyed roads and broken water tanks Friday as aftershocks from Southern California’s largest earthquake in twenty years kept rumbling.

The smaller town of Ridgecrest, close to the epicenter, assessed damage after various fires and then several injuries that were blamed on the magnitude 6.4 quake. A shelter drew twenty eight people today overnight, but is not all of them slept inside surrounded by the shaking.

“Some people slept outside in tents because these were so nervous,” said Marium Mohiuddin of the American Red Cross. Damages appeared limited to desert sand areas, although the quake was felt widely, including in the Los Angeles region 150 miles (240 kilometers) away. The largest aftershock so far — magnitude 5.4 — was also felt in LA before dawning Friday.

The quake did not really appear to have caused major difficulties for roads and then bridges in the nearby area, but it did open three cracks across shorter stretch of State Route 178 nearby the tiny town of Trona, said California Department of Transportation District Nine spokeswoman Christine Knadler.

“Our main goal is to alert people who might experience almost certainly damaging shaking, not just feel the shaking,” said Robert de Groot, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey’s ShakeAlert program, which is being developed for California, Oregon and then Washington.

Even though Thursday’s quake was certainly above magnitude 5, the expected shaking for the Los Angeles area was level 3, de Groot said.

A revision of the magnitude threshold all the way down to 4.5 was already underway, but the shaking intensity level would remain at four. The reason is to avoid numerous ShakeAlerts for small earthquakes that do not affect people. “If people get saturated with such messages, it’s going to make people not care as much,” he said.

This year, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said the country wanted $16.3 million to finish off the project, which included money for stations to monitor seismic activity, plus nearly $7 million for “outreach and then education.” The state Legislature accepted the funding last month, and then Newsom signed it into law.

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