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What's Happening In The Aftermath Of Latest California Earthquake


People in Southern California are on edge today, bracing for aftershocks from the most powerful earthquake in two decades. It hit last night, a magnitude 7.1 quake centered near Ridgecrest, about a hundred miles north of Los Angeles. That's the same location as Thursday's 6.4 magnitude quake. And there are reports of fires, injuries and power outages in the area. Eytan Wallace of KGET News is in Ridgecrest. Thank you for joining us.

EYTAN WALLACE, BYLINE: Hey, Renee. Good morning to you.

MONTAGNE: Tell us what you're seeing there.

WALLACE: So, Renee, I'm actually at a mobile home park right now, and it's actually the same mobile home park that also was impacted by the first 6.4 earthquake a few days ago, only this time, many more of the mobile homes are significantly impacted. They're damaged.

I'm standing in front of one right now that is literally off of its foundation. And the older woman who lives here - her son has come to help move her out. We do not see a building inspector. No building inspectors have actually come here. But the son and the woman clearly feel that it's too dangerous to live here at this point. They are moving out.

MONTAGNE: And we've heard reports that thousands of people are now without power. What do you know about that?

WALLACE: Well, I - what I know so far, Renee, is that power has been rolling in and out here. Now that it's morning time, it's a little bit more difficult to tell. I can tell you some of the traffic lights still remain a little bit not operational, and that's - they're beeping red. But in this case, I have here that it's just rolling.

When we first got here last night, though, let me tell you the scene was eerie because half the town was basically in pitch black, including gas stations and car sales dealers that normally would have a lot of lights on - all black. So a very eerie scene, for sure.

I do also want to just tell you a little bit more about the damage. And I'm standing also next to, like, a wall here that's made out of, like, concrete pillar blocks. Many of those pillar blocks have literally toppled over onto the ground almost like - it looks like a construction site almost, but, no, it was once a standing wall - no more.

MONTAGNE: And, you know, we haven't heard of loss of life, but I'm wondering what you've heard about that sort of thing - injuries.

WALLACE: You know, Renee, this is something that the people of Ridgecrest, people whom I've interviewed here since basically the first earthquake struck - they say, you know, there's 6.4 earthquake, a 7.1 earthquake. You know, that happens. But they are grateful that the worst that they've had so far is just damage. You are right. There are no reports at this time of any casualties or, really, even significant injuries.

And I should say that the hospital itself, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, remains closed, but the emergency room is open for anyone who needs to go. They should know that the emergency room is open. At that point, if it's deemed serious enough, then somebody - some of the patients will be taken to other regional hospitals, perhaps in Palmdale about 70 to a hundred miles south of here, and to Lancaster, as well.

But again, you're right. The good news is they're saying for such a powerful earthquake, there's not many reports of injuries and, certainly, no reports of casualties.

MONTAGNE: Well, just briefly, people must be awfully nervous because, of course, there's aftershocks.

WALLACE: Absolutely. And let me just tell you, since I first got here, Renee, I have felt under my feet many, many aftershocks. And the U.S. Geological Survey confirms aftershocks are taking place here. I feel maybe...


WALLACE: ...Every few minutes, and there's been hundreds of aftershocks that are 2.5 magnitude or higher. And as you mentioned, people are nervous.

MONTAGNE: Eytan, we're going to have to leave it at that. I'm sorry. Eytan Wallace of KGET News talking to us...

WALLACE: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: ...From Ridgecrest. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Eytan Wallace