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Earthquake Rocks California’s Famed Emerald Triangle

California’s famed Emerald Triangle cannabis-growing region was rocked by an earthquake early Tuesday morning, leading to the deaths of two local residents and leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity. This earthquake registered 6.4 on Richter and left about twelve people injured and caused significant damage to local homes and businesses. 

At 2:34 AM, the ground began shaking. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Ferndale in Humboldt County, about 210 miles north of San Francisco. About 10 miles under the Pacific Ocean, the epicenter was where the earthquake struck.

Humboldt County, along with neighboring Trinity and Mendocino Counties, make up California’s infamous Emerald Triangle, where for decades cannabis farmers have grown top-shelf marijuana famous around the world. Johnny Casali, Huckleberry Hills Farm’s legacy cannabis farm in Southern Humboldt County reported that electricity was lost during the outage. However, there were no injuries from the shaking. Chris Anderson from Redwood Roots stated that the earthquake did not affect southern Humboldt County. However, he heard of homes and water mains being broken in central Humboldt County.

More than 70,000 people lose power

In the entire region, damage to infrastructure and buildings is being evaluated. According to Pacific Gas and Electric, 72,000 customers lost their power due to the earthquake. The utility company reported that power had been restored to approximately 40,000 customers by Tuesday evening. It also expected that electrical service for those remaining without power would be restored within the next 24 hours. Rain prevented the helicopter from inspecting the damage to the main transmission line.

In a news flash, the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services reported that “two individuals have died as a result of medical emergencies occurring during and/or just following the earthquake.” The dead include an 83-year-old and a 72-year-old, according to media reports. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office reported that at least 11 people were injured during the quake. Media reports indicate that the earthquake caused a serious injury to at least 11 people.

On Tuesday night, the Governor of California Gavin Newsom declared an emergency in Humboldt County. Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, noted that two hospitals in the area had lost power but were running on generators. Ferguson said the damage to the region appeared minimal given the magnitude of the earthquake.

The Emerald Triangle is used to earthquakes. But some said that Tuesday’s shaking was more violent than the rolling motion of many of the region’s tremors.

“You could see the floor and walls shaking,” Araceli Huerta told the Associated Press. “It sounded like a freight train was going through my house.”

Rio Dell Bears the Brunt Of Temblor

According to Mark Ghilarducci, Emergency Services Director, Ferndale, Rio Dell, and Fortuna were affected by the earthquake, Mark Ghilarducci spoke at a Sacramento press conference. Rio Dell was the hardest hit, with at least 15 houses in this community of 3,000 declared uninhabitable. Officials reported another 18 houses sustained moderate damage after an initial assessment. Officials reported that approximately 30 people had been affected by the disaster, although they warned that the number could rise to up to 150 once a complete assessment of the effects of the earthquake has been completed.

Rio Dell’s water system was shut down and will remain out of operation for up to two days while leaks in the vital infrastructure are repaired. Residents in the area were able to access portable toilets and drinking water from the local firehouse.

Local resident Cassondra Stoner said that she was shaken awake by Tuesday’s quake.

“It felt like my roof was coming down,” Stoner said. “The only thing I could think about was, ‘Get the freaking kids.’”

Other than the emotional shock of the early morning quake, Stoner’s family was not harmed. When Stoner got to work, she discovered that ceiling tiles had collapsed and that shelves were on the ground.

The earthquake occurred in an area known as the Mendocino Triple Junction, where three tectonic plates meet off northern California’s Pacific coast.

“We’re in this moment of geologic time where the most exciting, dynamic area of California happens to be Humboldt County and the adjacent offshore area,” Lori Dengler, professor emeritus of geology at Cal Poly Humboldt, told reporters.