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Southern California earthquake spurs emergency declaration

Southern California residents remain on edge a day after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck outside the city of Ridgecrest, the strongest tremor in the region in nearly 20 years. The quake came after another tremor hit the area Thursday, leaving thousands of people without power. Sharon McNary, a reporter for Southern California Public Radio, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Joining me now from Southern California Public Radio is Sharon McNary a reporter at KPCC. Thanks for being with us so what did we learn now since last night since the quake happened.

  • Sharon McNary:

    Well it just a lot of aftershocks not a huge amount of catastrophe. A lot of upset inside people's houses but as far as you know catastrophic fires it seems like they're really keeping things in check. I'm standing in front of one of the homes that burned it's a mobile home and there's speculation it was a gas line it don't have an official word on that yet but so far as bad as it could have been it's really not that bad

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Yeah.

  • Sharon McNary:

    given the size of the earthquake.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Are the officials there concerned about the power lines, the gas lines if they turn things off to make sure that as these continued aftershocks happen that people feel safe?

  • Sharon McNary:

    What I've been able to see from driving around town is that things are sporadic like I was outside a supermarket at Albertson's that had substantial damage inside. And as they were cleaning up as I was outside the workers came running out said that power just went off and then I'm just a couple blocks away from that at this old trailer park and one half of the street the owner of the trailer park turned off the gas out of fear of leaks or damage. While across the street there was a house that burned down and some people are concerned that might have been due to a gas leak. So PG&E workers are walking up and down the rows of mobile homes making sure there are no leaks and you know with with the entire park shut down from gas they're going to turn on every single pilot light when it comes back on, which is very time consuming.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    I want to ask, you and your colleagues are filing stories here in an active earthquake zone. Are you feeling the aftershocks?

  • Sharon McNary:

    Oh, absolutely. I was in my car filing some sound and got a very heavy aftershock. I mean my car was bouncing you know around as if I had it you know customized to do that as you know we like that in L.A. but this was not on purpose.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Right. And so how are the residents that you're speaking with dealing with that? I mean, is this something that's affecting them? Is this something that they just roll with?

  • Sharon McNary:

    You know it's so dependent on the individual family. I met one woman who had put up a tent in her front yard and pulled a mattress out of her house to sleep in because it was just so unnerving to be in the house. And I asked her what she needed and she said I need this to be over. And then another woman she doesn't want to leave her house because her little dogs are there. So she's very concerned. And then there's other people who are perfectly calm. One woman who works on the China Lake Naval base. She's the rock of her family and they were all coming over to her house and hanging out in her garage in her front patio. It's just really individual to the family.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And what are the local authority saying now? I mean last night we saw the USGS experts say that the the aftershocks could last months if not longer.

  • Sharon McNary:

    Well the aftershocks will last years there's no doubt about that. Science has shown that with a big earthquake you're going to have a lot of aftershocks the next day about 50 percent as many the day after about 30 percent the day after. I think what people are most concerned about is this surprise not to geologists but to the rest of us that they had a six point four on Thursday followed by a seven point one, an even bigger one the next day. And so they're wondering could there be one even bigger than a seven point one. Well the chance of that the scientists say is about 3 percent. And you know I go out and buy lottery tickets with a lot more extreme odds than that.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right Sharon McNary a reporter at KPCC joining us via Skype from Ridgecrest California. Thanks so much.

  • Sharon McNary:

    You bet.

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