NewsCovering Kern County


Businesses, community reinforcing their bond in Ridgecrest following earthquakes

Posted at 8:56 AM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 11:56:55-05

RIDGECREST, Calif. — It has been six months since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Ridgecrest and Trona and many people are still trying to pick up the pieces. But the earthquake also impacted businesses in the community.

Nathan Shaneburlson remembers just months ago what the convenience store down the street from where he lives looked like after that 7.1 earthquake hit.

"Everything was knocked over, liquid everywhere."

Shaneburlson said parts of the ceiling were missing and there were long lines of people waiting for food and water because "the grocery stores were finished for a few days."

But what he remembered most is what has been emerging from Ridgecrest ever since: a sense of community and helping one another.

"We were just sitting right there at the door telling them what we needed and they'd go get it through the wreckage because there was so much damage we couldn't come in," said Shaneburlson.

Just a few blocks over the Ridgecrest Cinema was also hit hard with part of the ceiling completely collapsing. But now it is under construction.

"I was just at the Ridgecrest Cinema two days ago with my grandkids and we noticed that half of the building was closed because they're remodeling and the other portion was still open," said Ridgecrest resident Brenda Thomas.

While businesses worked on reinforcing their buildings, the community was reinforcing their bond.

"I think for the most part a lot of the local businesses have come together, and a lot of people are trying to help them. Local residents are trying to support them as well," said Thomas.

People said it initially took some time, but businesses have started to bounce back.

"There was a lot of cleanup, so I feel like it kind of hindered them at first. But now everything's pretty much back to normal," said Ridgecrest resident Tyler Cobral.

If you take a wide look at Ridgecrest today, it's hard to tell that just six months ago the city was shaken. But if you look close enough you can still see the reminders.

Sears Heating and Cooling hasn't reopened and at Cerro Coso Community College signs are posted on the window stating they are still repairing from earthquake.

Peggy Breeden, the mayor of Ridgecrest, said the biggest economic impact for the city will come from a $3.1 billion project to repair the damage at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.

"They're estimating 2,000 people coming in town to help make those repairs and to move here," said Breeden.

Most residents said the rebuilding process has made them thankful for their local businesses.

"It really meant a lot to all of us in the community because we had nowhere to turn," said Shaneburlson.

The quake may have rocked a few buildings, but it didn't shake the heart of the community. Many said they don't plan on leaving the place they call home.