By RIA ROEBUCK JOSEPH
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – A state of emergency has been declared by Governor Gavin Newsom for Humboldt County following the 6.4 magnitude earthquake which struck the region near Ferndale Dec. 20.
The quake which occurred at 2:34 Tuesday morning was found to have caused conditions “beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment, and facilities of any single local government and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to appropriately respond,” the proclamation read.
The earthquake and aftershocks resulted in damaged infrastructure including schools and buildings, and caused structural fires. Highway 211 along with several roads have been forced to close. Communities throughout Humboldt have been impacted by broken and damaged water and gas lines and there are widespread blackouts. Cell towers have also been affected, impacting communication networks.
Two people were killed and many residents have been injured and displaced.
In declaring the state of emergency in accordance with the California Emergency Services Act, Gov. Newsom directed state assistance to the affected areas through the Office of Emergency and the State Emergency Plan, empowering emergency officials to give directives to residents to ensure their safety, and to mobilize the National Guard if needed.
The Office of Emergency Services will work alongside local governments to provide assistance and can secure the use of fairgrounds to provide assistance, and allocate temporary shelter to displaced residents through the use of state-owned property.
The proclamation speeds up the process for unemployment insurance benefits, eliminates fees for replacement documents such as birth, marriage, death and divorce certificates and suspends “provisions of the Government Code and the Public Contract Code, including but not limited to travel, advertising, and competitive bidding requirements,… to the extent necessary to address promptly the effects of the earthquake.”
State agencies can enter into contracts for materials, goods, and services to aid the swift recovery of affected areas. Gov. Newsom’s order allows The California Department of Transportation to seek federal funds for repairing roadways.
The California Highway Patrol, Department of Public Health and Emergency Medical Services Authority, and Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will support, protect and take whatever action is needed to benefit communities damaged by the quake.
The epicenter of the quake was 3 miles offshore, and approximately 10 miles deep. The California Geological Survey will continue to monitor for aftershocks.