At least two people died and 12 were injured after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake rocked Northern California early Tuesday, local authorities said.
The temblor, which is the strongest earthquake the area has seen in years, also damaged infrastructure and cut off power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses around Humboldt County, about 250 miles north of San Francisco.
A local emergency was declared by Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal Tuesday night due to widespread damages in the county. Following the county’s declaration, California Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency to support emergency response.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck at 2:34 a.m. PT in Pacific Ocean waters about 7½ miles west of Ferndale at a depth of just over 16 miles. The city is about 19 miles south of Eureka, near the California and Oregon state line.
The two area residents whose deaths were linked to Tuesday morning’s quake were 72 and 83 years old, according to Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal.
Honsal said the deaths likely occurred because “their medical emergency happened at the moment of the earthquake and EMS could not get there in time to deliver them to the proper medical facility.”
The quake was felt as far east as Redding, California, of Ferndale, and as far south as the Bay Area, according to Mark Ghilarducci, director of the state’s office of emergency services.
In addition to Ferndale, most of the destruction took place in Rio Dell, Fortuna and Scotia in the Eel River Valley, state officials said.
Fifteen homes were deemed unsafe to occupy in Rio Dell, according to Rio Dell City Manager Kyle Knopp, displacing about 30 residents.
About half of the homes in Rio Dell have been assessed for damage, Knopp said, and the number of displaced residents could reach 100 or more by the time they’re through.
Rio Dell officials were also working on restoring running water as the tremor damaged the city’s water infrastructure, Knopp said.
A water boil advisory was issued for some residents in Rio Dell and Fortuna.
The regional American Red Cross established an overnight shelter Tuesday for community members displaced by the earthquake.
Ghilarducci said at least one structure fire had been reported along with two homes that were “knocked off their foundations” or partially collapsed.
While the power company continues to restore power overnight and Wednesday, there is no estimated time of restoration, according to an update from Humboldt County.
PG&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado told USA TODAY that the utility company has initiated its emergency response plan and that crews were responding to gas and electric hazards in Humboldt County.
“Our assessment could take several days,” Tostado said. “All customers are urged to use extreme caution around heavily damaged buildings.
Diana McIntosh, 69, said the temblor woke her up inside her home in an apartment complex in central Humboldt County.
“It felt like north and south rocked back and forth, and it kept getting bigger and bigger. I heard banging, things crashing and glass shattering,” said McIntosh, who lives alone in her apartment off the freeway near the Pacific Ocean.
McIntosh, who said she has lived in the Eureka area for 65 years, called it the biggest earthquake she has ever experienced.
“I was screaming,” she said. “The way that it shook … I’ve never felt anything like that in my life.”
McIntosh said her home, where some furniture was not anchored to the walls, sustained damage.
“My water is brown. There is no electricity. It’s 60 degrees in my apartment and dropping,” she said.
A photo posted online by the California Department of Transportation showed State Route 211, which connects Ferndale with U.S.
Another area resident, Caroline Titus of Ferndale, posted on Twitter, “The north/south shaking is very evident in what fell. This was our coffee station. Sorry for dark video. Power still out.”