RIDGECREST — After a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit the city of Ridgecrest on Thursday, and was followed by Friday morning aftershocks, Sharon Smith decided to stay active.

She was at home when the earthquake began.

"I kept saying, OK, it's gonna stop," Smith said. "But it didn't stop." 

She immediately grabbed her cat outside and could hear glass crashing inside her home. Fortunately, she said, damages only included a few lamps and knickknacks. 

"I feel very lucky," Smith said.

When a fairly high-intensity aftershock struck Ridgecrest on Friday morning, Smith decided she couldn't just sit in her home.

"I needed to do something, I needed to be busy," Smith said. "I'd rather not be thinking about it." 

Smith is one of many who experienced the temblor that hit Searles Valley, near the Kern-San Bernardino county line, at 10:33 a.m. Thursday. It was the strongest earthquake to strike Southern California in nearly 20 years, and led to more than 87 aftershocks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Sara Brever of the American Red Cross said the shelter established Thursday served 16 people that night. About 30 people came to the shelter at the Kerr McGee Community Center Friday morning for cool air, a snack, or even a sense of community. The majority of people who came for a cot, blanket and pillow experienced power outages at their homes, Brever said. 

"Hopefully people will be able to go home today," Brever said, adding that the Red Cross shelter will be available for as long as needed. 

"Our volunteers are currently providing comfort and care to several of those who have been affected," said Nicole Maul of the Red Cross. "Comfort and care can take many different shapes and sizes — it’s as simple as being able to provide safe shelter, warm meals and emotional support. We know that this community is resilient and we are working with local agencies to ensure the immediate needs are met."

Mayor Peggy Breeden emphasized the importance of collaboration between local and state agencies. 

"We had over 30 officers from all over the County and State watching over our City last night," Breeden said in an email. "From cites all around us, from the Kern County Sheriff's Department and the CHP, all stepped up to help our own Police Department protect and serve you."

Breeden also gave kudos to the Ridgecrest Police Department and Police Chief Jed McLaughlin for their work and dedication to serve the community.

'Never know what to expect'

Challice Neipp and her children were at Walmart on Thursday when the earthquake began and items started falling off the shelves. 

"It was terrifying," Neipp said. She's from California and knows about earthquakes, but it's still hard to know what to expect. 

Neipp and her kids, Ben and Catie, frequent the Ridgecrest Branch Library. When they saw photos of books covering the floor at the library, they decided to come in Friday and help restock shelves. 

"It was a good opportunity" to not only give back, but for her children to practice their alphabet, Neipp said. "We lost some books off our own shelves at home, so I can't imagine a whole building." 

Many other people volunteered their time Friday to come restock bookshelves. Sharon Smith, a member of the Friends of Ridgecrest Library, was there to help right away — kneeling on the floor of the children's section of the library and restocked piles of books back into their proper places.

Not only was she volunteering her time for the library, she was also doing it for herself. Smith said she didn't want to keep thinking about the earthquake and its many aftershocks, so she decided to spend her time at the library Friday to keep busy. 

People aren't just volunteering their time at the library — Steve Dobbs, owner of S&M Antiques, Coins and Collectibles, said tons of people have been stopping by the shop asking to help clean up. 

The store has accrued about $5,000 in damages after the earthquake, Dobbs said. Glass plates, knickknacks, glasses and dolls lay shattered on the ground after toppling off shelves Thursday. Dobbs, however, said it "wasn't that big of deal" considering what could have happened. Plus, he said, his wife and daughter are safe, and so is his house. 

The family plans to spend the weekend cleaning up and putting the shop back together for business on Tuesday. An "aftershock" sale is scheduled to begin next week in light of the recent earthquake, Dobbs said.

Maureen Strode can be reached at 661-395-7491. Follow her on Twitter: @maureenstrode.

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(1) comment


My sympathy for the residents....the 1971 Sylmar quake really rattled my cage and damaged my home so I can relate. Have been through many quakes and they are never fun!!!

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