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Second quake in two weeks sends Northern California back to response mode

By Amir Vera, Chris Boyette and Susannah Cullinane, CNN

Northern California officials are back in clean-up mode after the second earthquake in two weeks struck the region Sunday morning, cracking walls and roads.

The 5.4 magnitude earthquake was shallow, striking at a depth of about 19 miles, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. It was centered about 30 miles south of Eureka and 9 miles southeast of Rio Dell, the USGS said.

A 6.4 earthquake also shook the area, about 125 miles south of the Oregon border, on December 20, resulting in two deaths.

Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes said the December quake also left 27 of the town’s homes red-tagged — meaning they were unsafe due to damage — and 73 homes yellow-tagged. Some of the buildings were further damaged Sunday and may need to be torn down, she said.

“We are kind of starting over — we had moved from our response to recovery, and now we are basically in both,” Garnes told CNN’s Pamela Brown Sunday. “We have to be back in response because the southern end of town really took it hard this time.”

Garnes said Sunday’s quake shook her house.

“It was crazy. The earthquake felt more violent this time,” Garnes told CNN. “It was shorter, but more violent. My refrigerator moved two feet. Things came out of the refrigerator. There’s a crack in my wall from the violence of it.”

Garnes said a neighbor’s house also had a crack in the wall from the quake.

The mayor said 30% of the town’s water is shut down and the town lost “pockets” of power. There is a 35-foot crack in one of the town’s main roads, she said.

But the mayor said there has been a “tremendous response from the community,” in the form of state and local agencies as well as aid from neighboring towns.

“Literally everyone is trying their best to help us get through this,” Garnes said.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that Sunday’s quake had cut power to an estimated 50% of Rio Dell’s residents. It said the Red Cross had opened an overnight shelter for quake-impacted residents.

The Office of the California Governor Gavin Newsom said that it was monitoring the quake’s impact.

“Stay safe – check gas and water lines for damages or leaks, prepare for aftershocks, and remember to drop, cover, and hold on,” the office said in a tweet.

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