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A 6.4 Earthquake Strikes Southern California, Epicenter At Ridgecrest. Aired: 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 4, 2019 - 14:30   ET


LUCY JONES, SEISMOLOGIST: So whether or not the shaking exceed -- you know, reach the parameters that should have been alerted, we don't know. And we're trying to find out.

But remember, we're not even an hour since the earthquake, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you heard anything about damage in the LA area?

JONES: If there was damage in the LA area, something is really weird. This was not strong shaking in the Los Angeles area. So, I would be extremely surprised if that were the case.

But besides damage notifications do not come to Caltech, they are the U.S. Geological Survey, they go to the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we be preparing for a big one?

JONES: One should always be preparing for a big one. This does not make it less likely. There is about a one in 20 chance that this location will be having an even bigger earthquake within the next few days that we have not yet seen the biggest earthquake of the sequence.

It's certain that this area is going to be shaken a lot today, and some of those aftershocks will probably exceed magnitude 5, which means that --

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so you've been listening to renowned seismologist, Dr. Lucy Jones and I just want to highlight what she has been repeating that we may not have seen the biggest shake yet. She said it was a 20 percent chance that a worst one is coming.

Again, If you're just joining us, 6.4 magnitude earthquake, epicenter in the middle of those red circles, Ridgecrest about 150 miles away from Los Angeles kind of in between Bakersfield and Las Vegas.

I'm getting tweets from so many of you guys describing what it felt like. Sara Sidner just bringing you back in. The word I keep hearing is rolling -- rolling shaking -- and when it comes to Ridgecrest, you were reporting when we spoke last about fires. Now, you're hearing about rescues.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I should also mention this, we are just getting this in from several different people in the Ridgecrest area that they have felt another fairly strong aftershock there in Ridgecrest.

You heard seismologist, Lucy Jones who everyone in this area certainly knows. She is known around the world for her work with earthquakes.

She said this area is going to see a lot of shaking today. She is on the money. They are feeling aftershocks. As we speak, people are talking about how strong they feel and they definitely feel another feeling of a sort of a rolling earthquake. It certainly doesn't feel good, especially when you've had one that is about a 6.4 magnitude.

The other concerning thing, obviously to people is, is this a precursor to something bigger? And again, seismologist Jones, talking about the fact that there's a one in 20 chance that there could be a bigger event that happens.

And just to give you some idea of how these work. I mean, she also told us before this press conference that there was a 4.2 earthquake that hit Ridgecrest just a half an hour before.

BALDWIN: Foreshock.

SIDNER: That's right. So there has been a foreshock, is it possible that the 6.4 is a foreshock? Absolutely, hopefully not. Because the next, you know, size could be a bigger and could be much more damaging. But there is damage we're hearing from at least one hotel in the area.

There, you're seeing some pictures there of the lights moving around and back and forth. These are the things -- and this is why in in the areas where there are earthquakes, whether it's here or around the world, I have experienced a stronger one in for example, Chile. This is why they tell you to get underneath something that is solid.

So that table that you see there in the video, that is where you want to go because things do fall and a lot of people get injured, not by the event itself, but obviously it throws things off of shelves. Sometimes if something is built with bricks and you're outside, those come falling off, which is why building codes have changed over the years.

But there could be and there will be, according to the seismologists, and we know that there already are aftershocks that people are experiencing. And frankly, it's just -- it's scary for people to go through this. You have no control over this.

I do want to mention one more thing. I know I need to hurry. But I need to mention one more thing. There is something called a shake alert and I had downloaded it as soon as I found out about it in Los Angeles and this city has to come up with -- the Mayor here come up with this idea that everyone should have an app and that when there's an earthquake if there's a way to alert people even five to 10 seconds ahead of a big event. It did not go off on my phone.

In other words, I did not know that an earthquake was coming, but Lucy Jones there said yes actually it did detect the earthquake here in Los Angeles, but it may not have been stronger here -- strong enough here for us to get the alert.

I looked on the alert and it did say that an earthquake had happened. I just didn't know any -- not even a second before. So it should be noted that this is stronger in Ridgecrest and stronger for example, in Las Vegas, which is closer because the epicenter is there and closer to Las Vegas as well.

BALDWIN: Yes, we heard Lucy Jones, so we want to talk to people from Ridgecrest and China Lake. Sara, thank you very much. Let's do that right now.

[14:35:07] BALDWIN: I have Alexis Byrd on the phone with me. She is near the epicenter there in Ridgecrest. So, Alexis, first of all, how are you? How are you doing? You okay?


BALDWIN: Okay, so 6.4 and you just heard the seismologist say there have been or there will continue to be for a while other aftershocks, first just what did it feel like?

BYRD: It just started like shaking and then it just started rolling.

BALDWIN: And when we hear the word rolling, you know, how do -- how do you mean?

BYRD: It just -- just like the ground underneath you is rolling, like you're on a boat or in the water or something?

BALDWIN: And it's this rolling sensation. How long did it last? How many seconds would you guess?

BYRD: It felt like forever. It was probably a good minute or so.

BALDWIN: Was it was a frightening? Did you know what was happening?

BYRD: Oh, yes, I was terrified.

BALDWIN: You were terrified.

BYRD: My husband just kept saying, "Get outside. Get outside." And I was like, "I'm not going outside."

BALDWIN: No, thanks, honey, I'm going to stay inside and ride out whatever this is. And it's my understanding you're from Ridgecrest. So, you know, you're from this part of the country, you know, earthquakes and Southern California synonymous. Had you ever experienced something like this before?

BYRD: I've experienced a couple when I was younger, not so much as an adult. This one was a lot bigger than any I do remember.

BALDWIN: Okay, and we've been hearing and you tell me if you've heard anything. There are reports, Alexis of some fires in the Ridgecrest area as a result of this earthquake, do you have any neighbors or friends or anyone who has reported you know, seeing anything of that nature even just damage?

BYRD: So the power is out in --


BYRD: Part of the town Ridgecrest Heights, I just drove -- I live like out in the Acres area so I drove into town and yes, we've seen a fire.

BALDWIN: Can you describe -- where was the fire?

BYRD: It was over, I would say in the east side of town like on your way out to Trona and Searles Valley.

BALDWIN: I understand. I know that their -- obviously Fire is responding -- the Fire Department responding to that and some rescues. Have you felt aftershocks?

BYRD: I did feel one, but I haven't felt any of the others and that's probably because I was driving.

BALDWIN: Are you at home now? Are you hunkered down for potentially additional aftershocks?

BYRD: I am at a friend's house right now, yes. We're just going to wait it out.

BALDWIN: OK. Well, Happy Independence Day to you there in Southern California. Alexis, thank you so much for jumping on the phone with me.

BYRD: Yes, Happy Fourth of July.

BALDWIN: Hopefully this will end soon for you guys. We've got Carolyn Storruste who works at High Desert Haven Assisted Living Facility in Ridgecrest as well. Again, this is near the epicenter of this quake. So Carolyn, same question to you. What did it feel like?

CAROLYN STORRUSTE, WORKS AT ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY NEAR EPICENTER (via phone): Well, it was like you could hear a rumble and the ground sort of shaking. He said, "Oh, it's just a little earthquake," and then it hit hard. And then everything really was shaking and I thought, "Well, this might be it."

So I managed to get out of the room. And so I'm at an assisted living, so we had you know, people coming out of the rooms frightened and it was kind of a scary ordeal.

BALDWIN: So you are -- what do you do? If you don't mind me asking, you work at this assisted living facility? Are you are you helping folks in the home?

STORRUSTE: Yes. It's an assisted living where the elderlies live. We assist them. And I'm the residential care manager here.

BALDWIN: Oh my goodness. For all those good people. And the power is out, Carolyn, I hear the power is out.

STORRUSTE: What do you do first is the question? Yes, the power went out and then the backup lights came on. And then we had another the aftershock and then they -- it all went out.

So right now our goal is to keep everybody hydrated, you know and cool and keep them away from any more windows or, you know, and we're trying to clean up the mess because it's a lot of tipped over dressers and TVs and everything. So pretty scary.

BALDWIN: So it was that strong that dressers tipped over.

STORRUSTE: Yes, we had dressers, pictures, TVs. You can see you know, smoke out in Ridgecrest, so there's probably been accidents and fire. It was scary. Scary. Yes, we're having another one right now. Hang on.

BALDWIN: Right now.


BALDWIN: Hang with me. Hang with me, Carolyn.

STORRUSTE: I'm a little out of breath because all I could care about at this moment are my babies, are my children, so if you're stuck at work and you've got to pull it together and focus on everybody else.

BALDWIN: No, take a breath with me. Take a breath. And then first, are your kids okay?

[14:40:24] STORRUSTE: All my kids are okay. All accounted for, so --

BALDWIN: Are you okay?

STORRUSTE: Yes, I am. Pretty hot in here.

BALDWIN: How warm is it? How warm is it about?

STORRUSTE: I'd have to go down the center, but it feels probably about 90.

BALDWIN: So 90-ish degrees, no power. You're at this assisted living facility trying to -- worried about your children, taking care of all these folks in the home. How are -- how are the folks in the home fairing?

STORRUSTE: Everybody at first you know, they all kind of went together, they stayed together. A little scared. And then they finally have just now starting to like pick up like this is the one. In fact, they are all getting ready to go to lunch. And we're just kind of maneuvering in the dark. So we've got doors open and fans blowing.


BALDWIN: Is that an announcement?

STORRUSTE: So we're being ordered back in the lobby area. Everybody's going to come out of the rooms, so I am going to have to go.

BALDWIN: Okay, you take care of everyone there and take care of yourself. Carolyn, thank you so much for all that you're doing and for jumping on the phone with me. I appreciate it very much. Sara Sidner, coming back to you. My goodness.


BALDWIN: I feel for those folks.

SIDNER: You do and I think one thing that people forget, as you know, we're always talking about the magnitude, right, and how big or small it is. But when you experience one of these things, there is a sense of a complete loss of control of your -- the area that surrounds you. You really can do nothing but take cover.

And it literally shakes you physically, but it can also shake you quite emotionally with your family. And you're wondering, you know if this is the big one, or if there is a bigger one to come.

And in the meantime, when is it going to stop, because when these go on for seconds on end, and some of them have lasted up to a minute in countries around the world, I've been to places where they've experienced that and experienced it myself. It is quintessentially unnerving on many levels.

And when you hear her voice crack, you really -- it's hard not to feel for people who are going through this, especially when they're in a position where they're trying to protect their family, their children.

I know that I have heard from friends who said that look, their children actually really felt this one. And they were terrified. Because for a very long time here, people have not felt one this strong

And when you first feel one and you you're not from here or you're a child who's never really experienced it, it really is unnerving. You have a loss of control of your surroundings, and there is nothing you can do about it but take cover.

So we should keep that in mind for the families that live there in Ridgecrest and who live for example, in Las Vegas and some of the surrounding areas.

Like I said, the closer you are to that epicenter, the more you're going to feel a 6.4 or a 4.2. I mean, yes, you are going to feel it. And it's not by any means over. You heard there from seismologist, Lucy Jones. She was very clear in saying they're going to feel a lot of shaking there in the Ridgecrest and surrounding areas today. That is normally what happens when you have a seismic event. So thoughts to the folks that are dealing with this and trying to get

through it. And we know now that rescue crews are out. They are getting reports of medical emergencies and of fires.

Kern County Rescue is out there trying to help people as we speak -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, I'm just still thinking about Carolyn. You just have to remember to breathe, remember to breathe through it all. Sara, thank you very much.

Tom Sater. Meteorologist, Tom Sater. I mean just -- I'm curious too, just -- if you're in Ridgecrest, like she was, this assistive facility place and you have no power and you are still feeling these aftershocks and it is -- I mean, is it in the '90s? They have no air conditioning.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's true. I would be really concerned about the smell of gas. I'm sure there's going to be an unbelievable amount of calls, Brooke to 911. I mean, it's just the fright.

You think you're smelling gas, you may not even smell it, but I mean you've got to get out of there, but if you know how to turn it off, do. But let me pass along a few things I thought Dr. Jones, the seismologist was extremely interesting on a few points.

The 6.4 at 10:33. There was one before this at about 10:05 that was the 4.1 or seven, we're still working on that that was the foreshock. So this is the earthquake unless there is one bigger and this becomes the foreshock, but it's only five miles in depth. That's considered extremely shallow.

[14:45:10] SATER: That means more energy can be dispersed. She talked about high frequency that's more violent shaking and then low frequency. Those are the wave actions you feel and it propagates outward farther.

This was not on the San Andreas fault. It's just east of there they believe into a smaller fault. She talked about how it traveled about 10 miles on the fault line. That's because this was called a strike slip. That means the two parcels of land kept horizontal not like a thrust where one is pushed down below the other.

The shake map has come out and I noticed it's difficult to see, so I'm going to read these colors, but Ridgecrest is right in the middle and then there's a yellow, green, blue and then you come all the way out to Fresno down to Long Beach, LA and out toward Vegas. 42,000 felt very strong shaking, that's enough to do damage. 42,000 that's rigged Ridgecrest about 30,000 live there, so that's Ridgecrest, very strong.

Now above that is severe, violent and extreme. So thank goodness, we didn't have that, but still very strong will do some damage; 4,000 strong that's out in around the Ridgecrest area, and then you get 21 million felt light shaking, that's LA up to the north. Another 2 million felt weak, barely could feel it. That's probably up toward Fresno and out toward Vegas.

The USGS then Brooke takes this information with their shake map population, the magnitude, the depth, and they have these models. We use these almost every other week, when we're talking about earthquakes around the world and international.

What we want to see, well, this is called a pager and this has to do with estimated fatalities. I know God forbid, but you want to see green. And that means there's a 65 percent chance that maybe no one passed, a 30 percent chance of one, two, maybe even 10 fatalities. That's a big percentage when you're talking 35.

Now economic losses. This is in the yellow zone here. 35 percent this is the larger of the boxes here says the possibility of $10 million to $100 million in damage. It wouldn't take much to get to $10 million if you're talking about fractures, stress fractures, integrity of buildings being compromised, a lot of basis or cracks and walls, what have you. Gas leaks could easily get up to about $10 million in a community.

Now real quick one more for you. When we talk about the number of aftershocks that are occurring. When you have a 6.4 magnitude quake, you can have at least one that's a 5.4 and Dr. Lucy mentioned that. Could we? Absolutely.

You know, we could have a 50/50 chance of having one larger than our quake. But most of the time this is pretty accurate that at least one aftershock is 5.4, we haven't had that yet.

You can have 10 that are 4.4 or greater. You can have a hundred that are 3.4. And already we're seeing numerous aftershocks just in the last hour where our numbers are going up to like six and even seven.

So this is going to continue as she said for a while.

BALDWIN: Okay, Tom. Thank you very much for all of that information. I just want to keep hearing stories and I keep hearing from people who live in this part of California and who can describe for me what it is that they've gone through.

Linda King works at a market about eight miles outside of Ridgecrest. Linda, you're on the phone with me, how are you doing and how shaky was it?

LINDA KING, FELT EARTHQUAKE (via phone): It was shaky, very shaky.

BALDWIN: Define very shaky. If you're in a market, are we talking things coming off store shelves or not?

KING: Bottles were coming off, items behind my counter where I was standing was coming off.

BALDWIN: No kidding.

KING: I didn't quite know where to go. I didn't really want to run out by the gas pumps. Yes, it was very, very shaky. BALDWIN: How long did it last? A couple of seconds or did it feel a

lot longer?

KING: It felt like a lot longer. I'm sure it was just seconds but long seconds. Yes.

BALDWIN: Long seconds. And have you felt any shakes since? Because we're reporting all of this --

KING: Yes, in fact, I was standing here on the phone with you guys. I just felt another one just a few minutes ago.

BALDWIN: Have you counted since the big one? Hopefully that was the big one. Have you counted how many aftershocks you think you felt?

KING; I don't really know because we were pretty shook up right after it, so I'm sure we were having aftershocks. We didn't know if we were shaking or what was going on at the time.

BALDWIN: Of course. Understand. I understand.

KING: In the last 20 minutes, two of them, two pretty good little aftershocks.

BALDWIN: Okay so you're at this market, you see these bottles of alcohol coming down and it's just you and another coworker, just the two of you guys when this happened, correct?

KING: My boss and I, yes.

BALDWIN: Your boss and you, so then it's my understanding, my producer just told me that someone else came in the store and reported a ceiling collapsed in a nearby Walmart. Can you tell me about that?

KING: Yes, in Walmart, yes, customers were coming in here because they were closing businesses in Ridgecrest. They said it was horrifying. Stuff was just coming down. The ceiling was coming down.

[14:50:03] BALDWIN: The ceiling was coming down.

KING: Yes.

BALDWIN: Yaiks. And are you planning to stay put? What's your situation right now?

KING: We are open. We're open for business. We have everybody calling to see if we are open because of the fact that Albertsons and Stater Brothers and all the businesses in Ridgecrest have closed their doors because of severe damage.

BALDWIN: And, you know, during any sort of earthquake everyone says that, you know, you always compare it to the last big one you ever felt. Have you lived in South California for a while and how would you compare it to anything you felt before?

KING: This is the most major one I had ever felt. BALDWIN: The most major one you've ever felt.

KING: Yes.

BALDWIN: Linda King open for business there at your market despite some things crashing down on this Fourth of July, thank you so much for jumping on the phone with me and take care of yourself and good luck to you and your boss.

We're pivoting back between these various voices calling in, you know, telling their own stories of what they felt. I'm reading all of your tweets as well. I'm @BrookeBCNN. I'm reading how many of you are feeling the rolling, shaking sensation that you're describing all the way from Las Vegas on into Los Angeles.

Sara Sidner is in LA. She has been keeping an eye on lots and lots of moving pieces in this earthquake. And so you have new reporting on the number of aftershocks and even rock slides.

SIDNER: Yes, so San Bernardino, which is about an hour's drive from LA and people will remember that name unfortunately, because of the terror attacks that happened there.

They are now reporting their rescue crews and fire reporting that there are minor cracks in buildings there, but power lines down and rock slides that are happening on certain roads in that area.

You know, at this point when you have one of these events, this sort of thing happens quite often especially rockslides, something that's very dangerous here as you're driving along some of these roads, along ridges.

It is pretty common for rockslides and mudslides to actually happen here after an event like this, but you know, keeping in mind how far away we are here in Southern California from Ridgecrest, 156 or so miles, and you're hearing about buildings cracking, you're hearing about rockslides. It just gives you some idea of the power of this particular earthquake.

And because it was shallow as you heard from our seismologist Jones that creates more potential for damage, and we now know there is damage, of course, in and around the epicenter there in Ridgecrest that we are hearing that crews in Kern County is reporting and that's where Ridgecrest is, it is in Kern County. Kern County Rescue reporting that they have gotten at least two dozen calls for medical emergencies and for fires.

And so they're out doing the best work they can to try to help people, but again, far, far enough away from there more than a hundred miles away, you've got cracks in buildings. You've got rockslides happening in San Bernardino, concerning to everyone.

We have not yet heard just for some clarification here in Los Angeles, one of the largest cities in the country, most populated cities in the country, we've not heard of any injuries or damage yet here. But certainly look, you're seeing pictures there. That's Pico Rivera,

California, seeing pictures of things falling down and breaking. And this is by the way, what generally hurts people in these kinds of events.

The earthquake comes through. I do want to also mention to you, you know, people should know there are going to be aftershocks. And we are hearing and you just heard from a resident there who was choked up as an aftershock was happening right as she was speaking to you, there will be more of these. Seismologists are very clear in saying you'll get a lot of these not just today, but you'll get fewer, but you will still get them tomorrow and the third day, so this event is not over.

And the fear is there's a one in 20 chance that there could be a stronger earthquake to come along. People should remember the rules of safety: take cover, get underneath something that is sturdy and strong in case things start falling off the walls, off the ceiling or you have some incident with the ceiling. That is generally what injures people.

If you're in a store, try to find somewhere, go underneath the register with somebody because things fly off the shelves, and that is usually how people get injured in these events -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: You know, talking to one of those eyewitnesses in Ridgecrest and you had reported on this and for folks who are just tuning in, in addition to the boulders and the rock slides and just the continued feeling of the aftershock, there have been fires reported in the Ridgecrest area, just tell us what we know about that.

SIDNER: So we're just getting that from Kern County Rescue and they're going out and trying to assess what is going on. Do we know for sure that those are from this event? We do not yet.

But obviously sometimes what happens is the gas lines get interrupted, they get damaged, and you can have a fire and so people are always alerted that if you smell gas for example in your house and you can get out and get to a safe place.

[14:55:08] SIDNER: If there's a way for you to do that, you should, those are very, very, very dangerous possibilities that there is going to be A, an explosion or a fire ignited from gas lines. And that could be, but we have not confirmed, could be what has caused some of these fires in the area there where the epicenter is happening.

And it is important for people to know when you're seeing video here from another resident, a lot of times one of the best ways to see that an earthquake has happened when you're feeling it and to show it is the water in a pool, and you'll see it sloshing and moving.

I can tell you, I just talked to someone who was in the bottom of this building who was on the ground floor, and she tells me that there was definitely a feeling of rolling. First, kind of a little bit of movement; first, a shake and then that rolling feeling -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Sara, thank you so much standby. I've got the mayor of Ridgecrest, California now on the line, Mayor Peggy Breeden. Mayor Breeden, thank you so much for jumping on. I can imagine you have your hands very full right now.

Bring us up to speed as far as what you know and how people in your community are doing.

MAYOR PEGGY BREEDEN, RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA (via phone): Right now, we just -- 30 seconds ago had another one. We've had this -- this would either be our seventh or eighth one we've had. Oh my goodness. There's another one right now. Oh, my goodness.

BALDWIN: Are you okay?


BALDWIN: Breathe, just breathe.

BREEDEN: Okay. We've got -- as I understand we have five fires. We have broken gas lines. We have -- I do not know of any of -- this is a really good one.

BALDWIN: Hang on, before you continue, was it one aftershock you're feeling or several in a row.

BREEDEN: I can't tell. It seems like it's one.

BALDWIN: And is still going?

BREEDEN: We've had so many. No, it just ended. We've had the police -- the police are out doing a marvelous job. Kern County has set up an emergency facility here. We have China Lake Naval Weapons Center right next door to us. Everyone has offered to help.

I've talked to Assemblyman Vince Fong, who is a member of our Congress in the State Assembly in the State of California. Senator Kevin McCarthy, I'm sorry, Congressman Kevin McCarthy. I just got off the phone with. We've had all sorts of offers of assistance.

We have a lot of people -- I'm asking everyone and as they listen to this, please go next door to your neighbors just because you're okay doesn't mean that they are. Knock on their door, make sure that there's somebody there and that they are not in need of anything.

The Police, Fire and all our volunteer organizations are out working, assessing the situation trying to find out where it is best needed. The five fires, I believe are under control right now.

BALDWIN: Can you talk to me a little bit more, Mrs. Mayor just about those fires? Was that because of broken gas lines?

BREEDEN: Do not know that yet. There are PG&E, Pacific Gas and Electric is out here assessing lines and turning off gas virtually everywhere. And that's what we're doing.

We're just please asking people to don't panic. I went down to our senior center. We are a town of about -- a city of about 28,000 people. They were having their Fourth of July event there. They were panicky. I went down there, we got everybody out. No physical injuries, a lot of damage in the facility.

But so far, I'm about half a mile away from the hospital, numerous ambulances are going by, I do not know if it's because of the earthquake or just panic or what. But that's where it's happening.

And we have all sorts of organizations out helping and that's where we are. And so please, please just ask them to go -- if anybody is listening, go next door and make sure your neighbors and friends are all right.

BALDWIN: Check on your neighbors. Don't panic. Do you have a note for people as far as the calling 911 because I imagine they're overwhelmed?

BREEDEN: They are -- there's numerous 911 calls. Yes. And 911 certainly is when you need help that's the place to call. I'm asking them to make it for a real emergency and not for just information because I'm understanding there are a number of people calling for information.

BALDWIN: As I'm talking to you we've just had a second -- this image popping up on our screen guys confirm in my ear is this Ridgecrest? It appears to be a house fire, Mayor Breeden, this may be one of the five fires you were describing. It is absolutely raging you see fire on the scene.