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Recent quakes lead to local support for SoCal families

Recent quakes lead to local support for SoCal families

Mustard Seed Acre, others donate supplies to deliver to families in Trona affected by 6.4, 7.1 magnitude earthquakes

By Paul Myers and Nancy Vigran


EXETER – The Fourth of July wasn’t met with a bang as much as it was met with a violent rumble. A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Southern California near Ridgecrest two weeks ago that sent shockwaves throughout much of the state. The next night, a 7.1 quake hit the same area.

While the two earthquakes in successive days sent people rushing to their doorways, people are talking about it as if it were the day the earth stood still. Everyone has a story of where they were and how they experienced it.

For residents here in Tulare County it will be a story worth telling among friends and family, but for families near the quakes in Trona, it has uprooted their entire lives.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that more than 30 homes had been red-tagged as uninhabitable while 51 were yellow-tagged due to serious damage. The assessment included Trona, Argus and other nearby communities. Although, it did not include Ridgecrest in Kern County, which was nearest to the epicenter.

Since the damage has hit national headlines grassroots support efforts have been organized here at home. Jaime and Sean Campbell as well as owners of Mustard Seed Acre, Darian and Summer Bourez have led the effort. The goal is to fill a 48 foot trailer full of supplies and deliver it to Trona by July 20.

The Bourezes are collecting all of the daily essentials everyone takes for granted like toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes and even diapers.

“These people have lost everything and they have no means of getting the stuff they need,” Darian said.

He added that the residents of Trona are afflicted by poverty, and for many that means no transportation. He went on to say that their nearest store is 22 miles away, or rather the distance from Exeter to Dinuba. Even worse, for a community in poverty, the quakes shut down Searles Valley Minerals, where many of the residents worked.

To sum it up, there is a growing list of residents who don’t have a house to live in, don’t have a place to work and sleep outside after 111 degree days. Nobody locally knows the pain of the residents better than 16 year transplant Sean Campbell.

Having moved here from Trona when he was 19, Sean went to work for the railroad here in Exeter. His parents still live in Trona. After the earthquakes, he went to get his disabled mother while his dad stayed in town. Sean’s father works in utilities and knows where some of them are, which makes his experience crucial for repairs.

When he went to pick up his mother, Sean thought he could make the trip fruitful in both directions, he encouraged Exeter friends to donate bottled water, which he could drop off for Trona residents. When he left, his truck bed, cargo seat, and front passenger seat were stocked full.

That was just the beginning.

Campbell returned to Exeter finding friends wanting to do more. Summer and Darian along with Alicia Handley, told Campbell they were sure Exeter residents would give, and they have. So have others. The call for aid has reached far and wide.

“I had told him, we are here if they needed anything,” Handley said.

They discussed various means of transporting goods such as trailers, or a U-Haul truck, as donations started pouring in.

“I truly believe if we are able to secure transport, every inch will be full,” she told him. “We just need to think big about this.”

As drop-off locations were being set up at Mustard Seed Acre and Harvest Wealth Group, where Handley works, the owner of an Oxnard-trucking company contacted Campbell, donating the use of a 48’-semi complete with driver and fuel to deliver the goods.

“If these are the kind of people Trona produces,” Handley said of Campbell, “then we want to partner with them.”

Through the efforts of Campbell, the Bourez’, Handley, and others, more drop-off locations have been secured in Exeter, Visalia, Tulare, and Fresno. The front office of the Visalia Rawhide called wanting to donate tickets to games for those who were donating to help out Trona.

Besides water and food, Campbell suggests donations of fans, cleaning supplies, over-the-counter medicines such as Pepto-Bismol and ibuprofen. They also need paper goods – napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags. Dust masks, gloves, buckets, rags, towels, washcloths, flashlights, and batteries are all needed, as are baby goods in the way of diapers, formula, etc. and toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and first aid kits. And for the pets, dog and cat food would be most appreciated.

The truck leaves Exeter the morning of Saturday, July 20. All donations should be dropped off by noon Friday, July 19, allowing time to load the truck. Donations made in Visalia, Tulare or Fresno should be done so by Thursday afternoon.

Donation drop off locations:

Mustard Seed Acre,

444 N. F St., Exeter;

Harvest Wealth Group,

160 S. E St., Exeter;

Tricia Kirksey Real Estate,

251 E. Pine St., Exeter;

Shark Tooth Dental,

244 N. Kaweah Ave., Exeter;

Visalia Vapes,

2935 S. Mooney Blvd, Visalia;

Dani Blain Real Estate,

1967 Hillman St., Tulare;

RV Country,

3633 S. Maple Ave., Fresno

Where were they

Nadia Stimple said her first thought was that her boyfriend was walking heavy footed. When he sat down next her and the house was still moving, she knew it was an earthquake. After exchanging glances Stimple got up to check on her son in the other room.

“My son was on his bed watching a video, then I told him to come over to me because it STILL wasn’t stopping,” Stimple said.

Stimple went on to say that she was watching an NBA summer league game aired from Las Vegas, and the announcers began to talk about an earthquake there. Fans started leaving for the exits and the large overhead screens and scoreboard swayed for more than 10 minutes.

Paul Raheb, who relocated to the area 21 years ago from Southern California said this was a note worthy quake.

“That was the biggest quake I’ve felt since relocating. Not the biggest quake I’ve felt but it was the biggest I’ve felt here in the Valley,” Raheb said.

Lauri Segrue-Polly, who lives in Woodlake said she was outside watering the lawn when she started to feel some rocking and rolling. She said she wasn’t scared but she was fully aware she was in an earthquake.

“I live in the foothills…nothing to really scares me. It would feel a lot different if I was in a dense urban area,” Segrue-Polly said.

Damage underneath

Fortunately for residents in Tulare County, all they felt was a long earthquake, not a violent earthquake. Exeter and Visalia reported there were no damages to utilities or anything of the sort. And no other cities have reported damages either.

Former Visalia public works director and current Exeter city manager Adam Ennis said he was in Lowes finding parts for his backyard gazebo project that he’s been working on. Luckily nothing tumbled off a high shelf. Even as a public works expert Ennis said there was not much he was concerned about after the nearly minute long shake.

Ennis says there are two types of ways earthquakes damage crucial utilities. Either through violent shaking or dramatically shifting earth. Since Tulare County and the cities in the county were not near the epicenter, nor are they near an active fault line, shaking or large movements of earth are not a factor.

“It isn’t jerking on utilities…so what happens is the building foundations utilities is moving but their moving all together,” Ennis said. “Here in the valley we aren’t close to active faults so the ground isn’t splitting below you.”

Another factor the Valley has in its favor is the type of soil on the valley floor. The soft soil makes the land more malleable and able to reset when there is an earthquake.

Ennis added that building construction and materials have accounted for reasonable earthquake expectations. He says buildings are built with more ductile materials that can be stretched and moved without breaking. And older buildings constructed out of brick are susceptible to collapsing in an earthquake because of its rigidity. In some cases brick buildings are retrofitted with a steel frame to give them the required ductility to survive an earthquake.

Ennis says over a decade ago the probability of Tulare County experiencing a seismic event changing when California updated its seismic study. According to the California Department of Conservation’s Seismic Shaking Hazard Map, the County is well above fault lines in Kern County and far east of well-known fault lines on the coast.

There was also little doubt that more precarious structures with a high center of gravity were at risk of toppling over. Exeter’s city manager says that the City’s most treasured emblem, the water tower, has survived worse quakes than those this month.

“Obviously this tower survived the quakes above Ridgecrest. It would take a fair amount more than what we’ve seen in the past…although, it might have the potential if there was a large one in Bakersfield,” Ennis said.

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About The Author


Editor and reporter for The Sun-Gazette. Vice president of Mineral King Publishing, Inc.

Number of Entries : 262



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