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Six Months Later: Remembering the Ridgecrest earthquakes

Posted at 5:13 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 11:49:49-05

It was supposed to be a day full of festivities to celebrate our nation's independence but the Ridgecrest community was rocked by a 6.4 quake that surfaced on the Fourth of July.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency that evening but a bigger quake broke through earth's surface just over 24 hours later crippling the small town.

The twin quakes would be the biggest to hit California in two decades. Seismologists say the 7.1 temblor that struck on July 5th was ten times stronger than the 6.4 foreshock the day before. It was felt by approximately 30 million people in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico.

Flames turned structures into infernos. The quake leveled an entire theater. Officials estimated that at least one hundred homes and businesses endured significant damage. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, a massive military facility in the Mojave Desert, reported more than $5 billion worth of damage.

The historic earthquakes prompted state, local and federal officials to meet in the small town of Trona in San Bernardino County, a community battered by the quakes about 20 miles from Ridgecrest. Trona's water tanks were destroyed, gas and power were unattainable and resources were not immediate. President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration to send federal aid to towns affected by the twin quakes.

Since then thousands of aftershocks have occurred in Ridgecrest. Seismologists, geologists and a band of various researchers are studying the phenomena as the long-awaited "Big One" lies beneath California's surface.

This Sunday, 23ABC will be airing a special report looking back on the earthquakes that rocked Ridgecrest and Trona. We will talk with residents from both towns, hear from seismology experts and talk to Bakersfield officials to see if the city is prepared if an earthquake hits here. The special report will air Sunday, January 5th starting at 6 p.m.