Emergency responders are sticking around in Ridgecrest – California

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Emergency fire crews and equipment from around the state will remain on standby in the Ridgecrest area Sunday, “in case something happens,” Kern County Fire Department Battalion Chief Dionisio Mitchell said.

A town hall meeting was scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday in Ridgecrest at the Kerr-McGee Community Center at 100 W. California Ave. in the city, the same location where the Red Cross reported serving 140 people Saturday evening. Several agencies are expected to be on hand to answer residents’ questions, officials said.

The area was rocked Friday by a  7.1 temblor was centered roughly 11 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, near where Thursday’s 6.4 magnitude quake hit, the USGS said. There have been thousands of aftershocks.

The quakes threw items from shelves and caused fires and buckling at some homes. No deaths or major injuries were reported.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and said federal aid was expected.

McLaughlin said Sunday inspections of infrastructure showed the Ridgecrest’s roads and sidewalks were in good condition, its wastewater plant operational, and the city’s water system was never disrupted by either quake. The transit system was expected to resume normal operations Monday, he said.

There were no representatives from Trona at the morning news conference.

Trona’s water system was reported down on Saturday and Kern County Fire Department spokesman Andrew Freeborn said he was uncertain if it had been restored, but said bottled water and other supply efforts were being made.

The Trona Foursquare Church said it was handing out water and snacks Sunday morning.

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital in the city remained closed to all but walk-in emergency and active labor patients, the hospital announced. The 7.1 quake caused “water leaks…at different areas throughout the hospital that they were actively working to address,” Freeborn said. He said he had toured the hospital on Saturday.

“Our clinics will be open on Monday and every effort continues to reopen the hospital next week, pending no more significant aftershocks,” a statement from the hospital said.

The China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station also remained closed to all but “mission essential personnel,” with no update Sunday to that earlier announcement.

Residents were going to get an email address and other information Sunday to start a survey for damage to buildings in the city, which was still under assessment Sunday, Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said.

Help for residents will also come in the form of “spiritual professional people to help anyone in need in their recovery process…it is important that we get the help that we need to move past what we have all experienced, and get back to a normal life,” he said.

“Things are starting to slow down, which is nice,” Mitchell said, adding that some Kern County units that went to Ridgecrest have now returned to their home stations.

Still, about 107 special operations crew members from eight fire departments, along with state Office of Emergency Services equipment, remained on standby in the city on Sunday. Departments that sent mutual aid included Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

“We do have a big presence of emergency services still here, as far as the fire side is concerned,” Mitchell said. “We transitioned, we’re kind of waiting (to) see what’s going to happen, but we do have personnel here, ready to go, in case something happens.”

Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, said Sunday that the number of aftershocks will go down after time, “but not the magnitudes!”

She noted that “large, late aftershocks show up in most sequences.”

The last magnitude-5 aftershock for the 1994 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake was in 1997, she said in a tweet.

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