Humboldt County rocked by second earthquake in two weeks

An earthquake rattled Humboldt County on Sunday, rocking California’s famed Emerald Triangle cannabis-growing region for the second time in two weeks. The New Year’s Day earthquake, measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale, followed a stronger quake that struck the area on December 20, killing two people. Sunday’s quake was one of more than 300 aftershocks that have rattled the region since then.

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

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

Sunday’s quake struck at 10:35 a.m. local time and was concentrated about nine miles east of the Rio Dell area in Humboldt County, according to the US 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 possible damage related to the quake, the California Department of Transportation reported .

Earthquake leads to power failure

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

Gage Dupper was displaced by the December earthquake that knocked his house off its foundations. He told reporters that he has been living as a “nomad” ever since.

“Today was a pretty big one again,” said Dupper. “To me it still feels like we’re shaking. We just can’t take a break it seems.”

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

“But even here, it felt like the ceiling was collapsing,” Dupper said. “We almost lost our strength here too. I was in the middle of a conversation with a resident at the assisted living community I work for and you could see the panic in her eyes as it started. She was just trying to pay her rent. It certainly threw us around a bit.”

Sunday’s quake follows last month’s 6.4 shakers

The earthquake that struck the Humboldt County area on December 20 measured 6.4 on the Richter scale and caused extensive damage to the area. 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 during and/or shortly after the earthquake,” the sheriff’s emergency services department said Office of Humboldt County.

The December quake also caused a power outage in the Rio Dell area, affecting more than 72,000 customers, and a burst water main caused the area to lose water supply as well. Damage from the quake was reported in Ferndale, Rio Dell and Fortuna, Emergency Medical Services director Mark Ghilarducci said at a news conference in Sacramento. The damage was worst in Rio Dell, where at least 15 homes in the community of 3,000 were considered uninhabitable. Another 18 homes suffered moderate damage, officials said after a partial assessment of the area.

Rio Dell’s water system was shut down while leaks in vital infrastructure were repaired. The local fire brigade distributed drinking water and mobile toilets were set up in front of the town hall for residents. Local resident Cassondra Stoner said she was jolted awake by the early morning tremor that shook the area last month.

“It felt like my roof was falling off,” Stoner said. “All I could think about was, ‘Get the damn kids.'”

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