A double-wide mobile home on jacks leaned a little following the 6.4 earthquake that hit Southern California on July 4, but when the 7.1 quake struck, the home collapsed while the jacks poked up through the floor. Its residents are now living with the sister of Salmon Arm’s Wendy Goldman. (Photo contributed)

B.C. woman receives firsthand account of California’s massive earthquake

Shuswap resident’s sister and family camping outside at night as aftershocks continue

Wendy Goldman’s sister lives in Ridgecrest, just 17 kilometres from the epicentre of what’s reported to have been the strongest earthquake to hit California in 20 years.

Wendy, a Salmon Arm resident, says her sister Margo, her spouse and their five children were at home on July 4 when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck, sending them running out of their home on the edge of the Mojave Desert.

“She was glad the kids listened,” says Wendy. “She said, ‘out of the house – now.’ And there was a stampede.”

Ridgecrest, a town of 28,000, sits between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, about a four-hour drive in either direction. Initial damage and injuries could have been a different story had the epicentre been closer to those urban centres.

That night the family slept in a 15-person passenger van.

Margo has lived in California for 20 years. Although she experienced an earthquake when she first moved there, Wendy says, the kids, ages seven to 18, have not. Adding to the stress, unplanned events are especially difficult for two of the children who have special needs.

Read more: California governor says earthquakes are a ‘wakeup call’

Read more: Three more earthquakes recorded off B.C.

Read more: Magnitude 5.8 earthquake strikes near northern Vancouver Island

The following day Margo was off to Palmdale, a town about 90 miles away. She has a karaoke business, so happened to be in a bar about 8:20 that night.

That was when the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit, although with Margo farther from the epicentre than Ridgecrest, it measured at 4.8.

“Drinks were splashing, and a number of people ran out of the bar, including the singer, mid-karaoke,” Wendy reports.

Margo’s first thought was to drive home, but she was cautioned not to in the dark.

Meanwhile, Margo’s good friend Jennifer and her two children had moved temporarily into Margo’s home, because their double-wide mobile home had collapsed, its supports sticking through the floor. In total, 12 people are living at her place.

Read more: Series of small earthquakes no cause for concern, says expert

Read more: No aftershocks expected after Shuswap earthquake

Read more: Two back-to-back earthquakes strike off Vancouver Island

On the way home the next day, Margo bought extra cots, sleeping bags and a 10-person tent. And that’s where they’ve all been staying at night.

“From what I’ve gleaned, that’s not unique to them at all,” Wendy says. “Lots and lots of families are doing the same.”

Along with being safer outside, the temperatures go down to about 20C at night in the desert, a nice break from the mid to high 30s in the daytime.

Margo texted Wendy Monday during the interview to say there are still lots of aftershocks, but they’re becoming the new normal.

“We don’t feel anything lower than a five at this point,” repeats Wendy with a laugh.

The family is drinking bottled water, because their well now has sediment and pressure issues. Electricity has been restored in the area, although Margo’s home is powered with solar.

Emergency organizations there are working to provide food and temporary housing for people displaced. The city building has been set up as a place to sleep and shower. The Red Cross is there to support first responders.

Jennifer’s family will be getting temporary housing through FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Society.

Here in Salmon Arm, the experience has left Wendy grateful for technology. It’s kept her in touch with her sister.

“We were going to have a Skype talk that afternoon. She texted, I can’t talk, we’re having an earthquake.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The family of Wendy Goldman’s sister is spending nights in a 10-person tent, as many neighbours are, because of fears of further after-shocks in the night. This photo was taken from where the tent sits. (Photo contributed)

Just Posted

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs call for end of police patrols

Temporary closure of field office not enough to meet demands

Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal from pipeline construction area

B.C. Deputy Commissioner clarifies terms of agreement following minister’s statements

Stop checks, searches of Wet’suwet’en pipeline opposers unlawful: Watchdog

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs file complaint

Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

“Protesters get one side of the story and they stand up with their fists in the air.”

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

UPDATE: Two missing scout leaders found near Sooke after swollen creek traps troop

Third leader and scouts located, prior to search for two leaders who’d gone for help

Most Read