California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Tuesday evening after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Northern California leaving two dead and 11 injured, and causing widespread power outages, authorities said.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake struck near the small town of Ferndale in Humboldt County at 2.34 am local time, causing significant damages in the region as over 70,000 customers remained without power and prompting Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal to declare a local emergency.
Although the region situated on a rural stretch of the Northern California lightly populated, forested coast, is prone to earthquakes, residents described the earthquake – whose epicenter was just offshore at a depth of about 16 km – and the numerous aftershocks that followed as particularly jarring.
Newsom’s emergency proclamation enables Humboldt County to access resources under the California Disaster Assistance Act, eases access to unemployment benefits to support impacted residents, waives fees to replace records – such as marriage and birth certificates – among other provisions, and directs Caltrans to formally request immediate assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program.
The statement from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office explains that the two people had died as a result of medical emergencies that occurred around the time of the earthquake, noting that damage assessments are currently underway.
Per the statement, significant structural damages – including gas and water lines – were observed in the Rio Dell community whereas moderate damages to properties were registered throughout the Eel River Valley.
According to California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services spokesperson Brian Ferguson, the scale of the damage appeared to be minimal compared to the strength of the earthquake and was mostly focused on the small communities of Rio Dell, Ferndale, and Fortuna.
A few days ago, a small magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area – centered in El Cerrito, about a 25-km drive to downtown San Francisco – causing minor damage.
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