How to Help Trona Residents Recovering From July Earthquakes

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Trona, a community of some 1,900 residents in the Mojave Desert, is still recovering Wednesday  after two major earthquakes struck the region on July 4 and July 5.

As many as 50 structures sustained damages, including at least 10 homes deemed by inspectors too unsafe to stay in. The water pipes buckled from the powerful shaking, leaving the town with no clean running water amid triple-digit temperatures.

Officials and organizations have sent drinking water, portable showers and other supplies to Trona High School, where an assistance center was set to open Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The First Baptist Church of Searles Valley at 84661 Trona Road also opened its doors as a cooling center for residents from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“The water company up here doesn’t even have any idea what the extend of the damage might be,” county spokesman David Wert told KTLA.

Some community members said their water had been restored, but officials warned it may not be safe to drink.

At a packed town hall meeting in Trona High School, county officials provided updates on resources that have started to trickle in, and residents told stories of how the earthquake disrupted their lives.

Trona resident Kenneth Johnson said he didn’t know whether his house was alright.

“Since the last earthquake, we haven’t been back in it,” Johnson said. “Some of the walls have cracks and everything was turned over, so we didn’t feel comfortable until they come and inspect it.”

Another resident, Cynthia Thompson, said she and her family had just returned to their home and started cleaning up Tuesday after spending several nights sleeping in their car.

“There’s so much clutter all over the house and everything’s fallen,” Thompson said.

Senator Shannon Grove spoke to residents at the meeting and thanked first responders.

“I can’t even imagine what you guys have been through and I’m really sorry,” Grove said. “I just thank God that after a 7.1 and 6.4, that there was not one loss of life in this community," she said as the hall erupted with cheers and clapping.

Officials said Wednesday that there are still several gas leaks that need fixing, and urged residents who turned their gas off not to turn it back on themselves, but call the gas company to do a safety inspection before turning it back on.

Officials have set up a hotline at 877-410-8829.

The Trona Neighborhood Watch Facebook page, used by many community members as a communication tool, said people who wish to help can make a check to the Trona Community Chest.

"I want everyone to know none of the money given to Trona Community Chest leave Trona," Zana Eisenhour said in a Facebook post. "We have set a committee to make sure the funds are used in the best way."

Checks can be made to:

Account #53955
Desert Valley Credit Union
P.O. Box 367
Ridgecrest, CA 93556
Memo Line: Trona Disaster Fund

San Bernardino County also has been releasing information about the recovery process on its website.

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