Earthquake Rocks Ridgecrest And Most of Southwest


(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A visitor takes a photo of a crack on the ground following recent earthquakes Sunday, July 7, 2019, outside of Ridgecrest, Calif.

Most of us felt it.

The massive earthquake in Southern California also rolled through Las Vegas. Chandeliers swayed. Water sloshed out of swimming pools. 

So imagine what it was like in Ridgecrest, California, close to where the 7.1 quake happened. Fires broke out in a few homes. Cracks broke up some roads. It was bad enough that looters thought they’d have easy pickings in town.

And for those who live in Ridgecrest, it was abject fear. 

Saturday morning, State of Nevada reached Thanh Pennala at her salon, Anna’s Hair Design, as she and her husband cleaned up damage from the quake. 

Tiles from the ceiling had fallen and cracked; the door of a refrigerator popped open and cans of soda flew out; a ceramic good luck Buddha fell with a shelf and smashed on the floor. 

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When the quake hit around 8 p.m, Pennala said she was having dinner with her mom, who lives across the street. 

“I just thought it was one of those aftershocks. So, I took my little one and we ran outside with our dogs," she said. 

Pennala said her mother, her kids and her dogs all stayed outside until her husband came home from work about two hours later.

“I had a few friends who spent the night in the car, camp tents out in the driveway,” she said.

Her house didn't suffer any major damage. A few things fell off the mantel and the water dispenser fell over but that was it. Her business suffered more damage.

Pennala said many people in Ridgecrest aren't cooking out of fear of damaged gas lines.

“Everyone is freaked out right now.," she said, "So, basically… a lot of the gas stations are filled with people and then McDonald’s fast food I think the line is out the street… I think people are scared of cooking. I lot of them I noticed are turning off their gas lines.”

Despite the damage and the emotional toll of the quake, Pennala isn't planning on moving.

“Everywhere you go there is going to be something," she said.

Jacob Margolis lives in Los Angeles. He felt the earthquake but he also doesn't plan on moving. 

Margolis is the science reporter and host of "The Big One" podcast at KPCC.

He said he would move from Southern California because of the rising cost of housing before he would leave because of earthquake fears.

Margolis pointed out that there are ways to prepare for an earthquake, even in Las Vegas.

“When there is a major San Andreas event, you guys aren’t that far away. I don’t know exactly the type of damage that is going to go on there, but you should be prepared for that by just buying some extra water, banking extra food, making sure you have extra medicine if you really need it,” he said.

He suggested getting a gallon of water per day, per person in the home to cover a two-week period. He also suggested having something to cook food on that isn't connected to electricity or gas lines.

“I think there is this mental block, this procrastination that happens with people that they can’t necessarily anticipate. They don’t take in what this event is really going to be,” he said, adding that the event could be years away -- but it is coming.

Besides people not being prepared, Margolis said many buildings in Southern California aren't ready for the Big One. However, making sure those buildings are is costly.

“How worried are we going to be about this building stock if it’s a .01 percent chance that this thing is going to fail, but if it does thousands of people are going to die? Do we want to take that chance?” he said.

Margolis said the Big One would be 7.5 or above along the southern part of the fault in a populated area. While the quake in Ridgecrest isn't considered a Big One by seismologist, it doesn't mean it won't have a lasting impact.

“When people are sitting at a café and truck drives by from now on, some of them are going to jump,” he said.

For those concerned that Friday's quake is just the beginning of a series of quakes, Margolis said it is unlikely.

“Going forward, as of Saturday afternoon, there is a less than 2 percent chance that in the next day we’ll experience a plus-7.0 magnitude earthquake. The further out we get from the actual event, the lower those probabilities go,” he said.

But there is a bigger possibility for smaller aftershocks that could be felt in the area.

"I’m sure up in Ridgecrest it’s just a constant kind of unsettling feeling that people are going through,” Margolis said, adding that one way to empower one's self during that unsettling time is preparation. 



Thanh Pennala, owner, Anna’s Hair Design; Jacob Margolis, science reporter and host of "The Big One" podcast, KPCC

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