Humboldt County Shaken by Second Earthquake in Two Weeks


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An earthquake rocked Humboldt County on Sunday, shaking California’s famous Emerald Triangle cannabis cultivation region for the second time in two weeks. The earthquake on New Year’s Day, which measured 5.4 on the Richter scale, followed a stronger quake that shook the area on December 20, leading to the death of two people. Sunday’s quake was one of more than 300 aftershocks that have rocked the region since.

“It’s typical to have an aftershock that is about one magnitude unit less than the main shock,” Lori Dengler, a former geology professor and an expert on earthquakes and tsunamis, told local media after Sunday’s temblor. “So this is very typical of most aftershock sequences.”

“Today’s earthquake (was) clearly on a different but related fault,” Dengler added.

Sunday’s quake occurred at 10:35 a.m. local time and was centered about nine miles east of the Rio Dell area of Humboldt County, according to information from the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no reports of casualties or major damage, although California Route 211 through the area was temporarily closed to give inspectors time to check a bridge over the Eel River for potential damage associated with the quake, the California Department of Transportation reported. 

Earthquake Results In Power Outage

The temblor caused a power outage in the Rio Dell area, which bore the brunt of the earthquake that shook the area 12 days earlier. Pacific Gas and Electric reported that the outage affected between 500 and 5,000 utility customers, according to media reports.

Gage Dupper was displaced by the December earthquake, which knocked his home off its foundation. He told reporters he has been living as a “nomad” since then.

“Today was another pretty big one,” said Dupper. “Still feels like we are shaking to me. We just can’t catch a break it seems.”

Gage noted that he was working in Fortuna, adjacent to Rio Dell, when Sunday’s quake shook the area again.

“But even just here it felt like the ceiling was going to come down,” Dupper said. “We nearly lost our power here as well. I was in the middle of talking to a resident of the assisted living community I work for and you could just see the panic in their eyes when it started. She was just trying to pay her rent. It certainly tossed us around a bit.”

Sunday’s Quake Follows 6.4 Shaker Last Month

The earthquake that shook the Humboldt County area on December 20 measured 6.4 on the Richter scale and caused significant damage in the region. That quake injured 17 people and was blamed for the deaths of two residents, a 73-year-old and an 83-year-old, who died as “a result of medical emergencies occurring during and/or just following the earthquake,” according to a statement from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office’s Department of Emergency Services.

The December quake also resulted in a power outage in the Rio Dell area, with more than 72,000 customers affected, and a water main break caused the area to lose water service, as well. Damage from the quake was reported in Ferndale, Rio Dell, and Fortuna, Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said in a press conference in Sacramento. Damage was most extensive in Rio Dell, where at least 15 homes in the community of 3,000 were deemed uninhabitable. Another 18 homes sustained moderate damage, officials reported after a partial assessment of the area. 

Rio Dell’s water system was shut down while leaks in the vital infrastructure were repaired. The local firehouse was distributing drinking water, and portable toilets were set up outside City Hall for area residents to use. Local resident Cassondra Stoner said that she was shaken awake by the early morning quake that rocked the area last month.

“It felt like my roof was coming down,” Stoner said. “The only thing I could think about was, ‘Get the freaking kids.’”



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