Mammoth Needs More Shelter Workers; Here is How to Help

Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

Ridgecrest wasn’t the only place rocking and shaking during the July 4 and July 5 big earthquakes.

Measuring in at a 6.9 and a 7.1 magnitude on the Richter scale respectively, Mammoth residents and almost every other resident from Los Angeles to Lee Vining felt the biggest two quakes – the largest in 20 years for the area – with a sense of both awe and forboding.

“I felt it go on and on, like for 30 seconds, moving the second floor back and forth,” said Mammoth resident Julia Barnett. “The weird thing was the noise. It sounded like a big windstorm in the trees, but it wasn’t windy at all. It was kind of amazing and really frightening all at the same time.”
And that was with the epicenter for the quakes, and the thousands of smaller ones since then, centered near Ridgecrest, some 100 miles away; a testament to the power of the quakes.

So it’s not surprising that the shaking and rolling has Mammoth locals and officials once again thinking about the inevitable – what will we do when, not if, Mammoth gets hit by a large quake – or other disaster, for that matter.

Cathy Young is a Mono County staff services analyst and she is also the county’s Emergency Shelter Director. She learned first-hand last weekend what vulnerabilities still exist in Mono County’s capacity to respond to a serious earthquake.

That’s because she went down to Ridgecrest to help set up an emergency shelter with the Los Angeles chapter of the Red Cross (Mono and Inyo and Kern counties are part of this group) on Friday, July 5, half a day in advance of the big 7.1 quake that, unbeknownst to her, was about to hit the city in a few hours.

Finding little damage that afternoon and only a few people in the shelter, she thought the worst was over.

That changed when she went out to her car at about 8: 20 p.m. July 5 to find her headlamp.

“I was leaning into the car and it started rolling and moving and I had to hang on to the car to stand up,” she said. “It took a while to realize what was going on. I let go of the car and I almost fell over the shaking was so bad so, yep, back to holding on to the car I went!”

When the shaking stopped, the sirens started. She saw a transformer spark and start a fire and soon, people began to file into the shelter, scared, without power, the ground still shaking occasionally with an almost endless series of aftershocks.

Find out more in the print edition of the Mammoth Times, July 11, 2019