Printed from

Calif. quake assessments ongoing; state of emergency declared

Posted On: Jul. 8, 2019 2:45 PM CST

Fissures that opened up under a highway during a powerful earthquake that struck Southern California are seen near the city of Ridgecrest on July 4.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in two counties hit by the earthquakes that struck the state Thursday and Friday and has asked the federal government to step in, while initial reports of damages and losses are still being conducted.

On Thursday, a state of emergency was declared for Kern County following a magnitude-6.4 earthquake centered near the city of Ridgecrest.

The region was hit again Friday with a magnitude-7.1 earthquake in the same vicinity, “causing widespread and significant damage to critical infrastructure, including roads, water lines, and gas lines, resulting in multiple structural fires,” the governor’s office said in an emergency proclamation.

The governor declared a state of emergency Friday for San Bernardino County, which was also affected by the earthquakes.

On Saturday, Gov. Newsom also requested a presidential emergency declaration for direct federal assistance to further support the communities impacted by the earthquakes, according to a separate statement from the governor’s office.

The quake “caused significant damage to critical infrastructure, including roadways, gas lines, and water lines, resulted in numerous fires, and necessitated the evacuation of residents,” the governor said in his request for federal assistance.

He cited an estimate from the Federal Emergency Management Administration that said more than 5,000 structures had been affected, and noted Ridgecrest Regional Hospital had evacuated patients.

Initial reports of damages and losses were still being assembled, most sources said.

“While it is still too early to tell the extent of the claims we will be receiving, we estimate that approximately 2,000 CEA policyholders felt strong or severe shaking during the July 4 magnitude 6.4 and July 5 magnitude 7.1 earthquakes. About 20 percent of the homes in the Ridgecrest area are covered by a CEA policy, which is higher than the statewide average,” said Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, in an email from a spokeswoman.

The California Department of Insurance responded in an email that it did not yet have any initial damage estimates.

Boston-based catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Co. noted in a statement to Business Insurance that the earthquake occurred in a “relatively sparsely populated area which is keeping the losses low,” with damage primarily confined to chimneys, small cracks and contents damages to residential structures; ceiling tiles and contents damages to commercial structures; and localized fire losses.

KCC currently estimates total losses — insured and uninsured but excluding infrastructure — of around $200 million and is sending a team to survey the impacted area, the statement said.

In a research note, Morgan Stanley said: “Given the sparsely populated area, damage was minimal,” and added that the 1994 Northridge quake was a magnitude-6.8 quake and resulted in $26 billion in insured losses in 2018 dollars.