After Earthquakes, California Governor Seeks Federal Aid

Gov. Gavin Newsom is seeking the Trump administration's help in responding to the the 7.1 earthquake in Southern California that on Friday damaged roads, sparked fires and caused numerous injuries.
by | July 8, 2019 AT 7:40 AM
Resident surveys the effects of last week's magnitude 7.1 earthquake. (TNS/Getty Images/Robyn Beck)

By Sophia Bollag

Gov. Gavin Newsom is seeking the Trump administration's help in responding to the the 7.1 earthquake in Southern California that on Friday damaged roads, sparked fires and caused numerous injuries.

Newsom had an hourlong briefing from emergency officials Saturday morning about the earthquake, the second in two days to hit near the town of Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert.

"I offer my heartfelt support to those affected by tonight's earthquake near Ridgecrest," Newsom said in a statement Friday.

Newsom said he asked for a presidential emergency declaration to activate federal help to respond to the quake. He also said the State Operations Center is activated "to its highest level" to coordinate the emergency response.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is assisting California with its response, officials said at a news conference Saturday morning.

There are no reports of deaths from the earthquake, but officials said there were injuries from "falling debris." They did not say how many people were hurt.

Newsom declared a state of emergency for Ridgecrest in Kern County, where thousands were left without power as night fell and 911 operators were overwhelmed with calls for medical assistance.

Newsom also declared a state of emergency in neighboring San Bernardino County.

The declarations of emergency let the state to bring in additional crews to help local emergency responders and set up shelters on fairgrounds and state owned property. Newsom cited "significant damage" from the earthquake to roads, water lines and gas lines, which have in turn sparked numerous fires.

The 7.1 quake Friday, which was felt as far as Sacramento, came a day after a 6.4 magnitude quake hit the same area Thursday.

A "significant number" of aftershocks could occur over the next few days and there's a 5% chance of another earthquake of the same magnitude hitting the same part of the state, said Mark Ghilarducci, California Office of Emergency Services director.

Now that emergency crews can see the damage in the daylight, it's not as bad as might have been expected, Ghilarducci said.

CalTrans worked through the night to fix roads and clear rockslides, said David Kim, secretary of the California State Transportation Agency. All the roads his agency oversees are now open and all state bridges have been inspected and deemed safe, Kim said.

(c)2019 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)