Gov. Newsom Says Trump Wants to Help California in Wake of Major Earthquakes

July 7, 2019 Updated: July 7, 2019

Gov. Gavin Newsom says President Donald Trump has called him and expressed commitment to helping California recover from the two earthquakes that hit the state’s south July 4 and 5.

Speaking to reporters after touring the damage zone, Newsom said on July 6 that he and Trump had talked about the struggles California has been through, including two devastating wildfires that happened just six months ago.

President Donald Trump (C) walks with Paradise Mayor Jody Jones (2nd R), Governor of California Jerry Brown (2nd L), Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long (R), and Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, as they view damage from wildfires in Paradise
President Donald Trump (C) walks with Paradise Mayor Jody Jones (2nd R), Governor of California Jerry Brown (2nd L), Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long (R), and Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, as they view damage from wildfires in Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 17, 2018. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Newsom estimated more than $100 million in economic damages from the major earthquakes.

The Democratic governor said, “There’s no question we don’t agree on everything, but one area where there’s no politics, where we work extremely well together, is our response to emergencies.”

“He’s committed in the long haul, the long run, to help support the rebuilding efforts,” Newsom said of Trump.

Newsom said that he was relieved that the damage from the two quakes wasn’t worse, and that they should alert people across the nation of the need to be prepared for natural disasters.

“It is a wake-up call for the rest of the state and other parts of the nation, frankly,” Newsom said at a news conference to update the public on the state’s efforts to help the affected region.

Friday’s earthquake was the largest one to hit Southern California in nearly 20 years. Officials voiced concerns about the possibility of major aftershocks in the days and even months to come.

No fatalities or major injuries were reported after the 7.1-magnitude quake, which jolted an area from Sacramento to Mexico and prompted the evacuation of the Navy’s largest single landholding, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in the Mojave Desert.

The quake struck at 8:19 p.m. Friday and was centered 11 miles from Ridgecrest, the same area of the desert where a 6.4-magnitude temblor hit on Thursday. It left behind cracked and burning buildings, broken roads, obstructed railroad tracks, and leaking water and gas lines.

The light damage was largely due to the remoteness of the area where the earthquake occurred, but Newsom cautioned after touring Ridgecrest: “It’s deceiving, earthquake damage. You don’t notice it at first.”

Only 28,000 people live in the Ridgecrest area, which is sandwiched between more populated areas of Southern California and Las Vegas’ Clark County. But seismologists warned that the area could see up to 30,000 aftershocks over the next six months.

April Hamlin said she was “already on edge” when the second quake rattled her Ridgecrest home. She and her three kids initially thought it was another aftershock.

“But it just kept on intensifying,” Hamlin said. “The TV went over, hanging by the cord. We heard it break. We heard glass breakage in the other rooms, but all we could do was stay where we were until it stopped.”

With the possibility of aftershocks and temperatures forecast to reach 100 degrees over the next several days, officials were taking precautions.

The California National Guard was sending 200 troops, logistical support and aircraft, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin said. The Pentagon had been notified, and the entire California Military Department was put on alert, he said.

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake said in a Facebook post that nonessential workers were evacuated and operations halted. The epicenters of both quakes were on the base, and officials said they are continuing to assess damage. Officials said most employees live off the base and in Ridgecrest, but they authorized the evacuation so those who live on base can be eligible for reimbursements.

The California Office of Emergency Services brought in cots, water and meals and set up cooling centers in the region, Director Mark Ghilarducci said.

In Ridgecrest, local fire and police officials said they were initially swamped by calls for medical and ambulance service. But police Chief Jed McLaughlin said there was “nothing but minor injuries such as cuts and bruises, by the grace of God.”

Two building fires—one involving a mobile home—were quickly doused, McLaughlin said, and natural gas lines where leaks were reported were shut off.

When asked to describe what he has been going through in the past two days, the chief said: “Grief, shock and then, for me, pride in what I’ve seen from here, my people. It’s been a vast range of emotions, and I think the whole community’s going through that.”

In Trona, a town of about 2,000 people considered the gateway to Death Valley, fire officials said up to 50 structures were damaged. San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood said FEMA delivered a tractor-trailer full of bottled water because of damage to water lines. Newsom declared a state of emergency for the county.

Julia Doss, who maintains the Trona Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook, said the only food store in town is a Family Dollar store that was shuttered Saturday.

“The only way to get food is to drive to Ridgecrest, and with only three gas stations in town I’m worried we may soon run out of fuel,” Doss said.

Antoun Abdullatif, 59, owns liquor stores and other businesses in Ridgecrest and Trona.

“I would say 70 percent of my inventory is on the floor, broken,” he said. “Every time you sweep and you put stuff in the dust bin, you’re putting $200 in the trash.”

But he has stopped cleaning up, believing another earthquake is on the way.

Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology and a former science adviser at the U.S. Geological Survey, said the new quake probably ruptured along about 25 miles of fault line and was part of a continuing sequence. The seismic activity is unlikely to affect fault lines outside of the area, Jones said, noting that the gigantic San Andreas Fault is far away.

Egill Hauksson, another Caltech seismologist, said later in the day that scientists believe the continuing sequence could produce more than 30,000 quakes of magnitude 1 or greater over six months. He said the probability of a magnitude 7 over the next week is about 3 percent, but one or two magnitude 6 quakes are expected.

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