As aftershocks continued to roll through Ridgecrest on Monday, the city slowly began to try to find a sense of normalcy following two large earthquakes that occurred over Fourth of July weekend.
While public safety agencies have begun to scale back operations and residents returned to sleeping in their homes after a night or two outside, the city has turned its attention to fixing the damage caused by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Thursday and a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Friday that both struck near Ridgecrest.
“It is recovery mode now,” said Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden. “There is no search and rescue, there is no immediate dreadful issues that we have to face. Now we have to face rebuilding.”
One of the only major public buildings to be effected by the earthquake, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, returned to full operations on Monday.
The hospital had closed Thursday after losing power during the earthquake, and an inspection following Friday’s quake revealed that damage to the second floor of a new patient tower would require several months of repairs.
However, CEO James Suver said the damage would not hamper the hospital’s operations.
As some aspects of life returned to normalcy, others remained in drastic flux.
More than 90 people were expected to sleep in a Red Cross shelter on Monday night as transportation between the shelter and surrounding areas improved.
A park space behind the shelter at Kerr McGee Community Center in Ridgecrest was also used by many residents who were not comfortable sleeping inside.
“The further we get out from the start of the disaster, people start to begin recovery at all different phases,” said Red Cross Spokesperson Nicole Maul, who added that the organization had no plans to close the shelter.
Kern County supervisors are scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon to ratify an emergency proclamation signed by County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop and Fire Chief David Witt on Thursday.
The declaration will allow the county to provide services to recovery efforts faster than under normal circumstances.
The county is aiding the city and numerous other agencies in creating a local assistance center where Ridgecrest residents will be able to go to receive a variety of recovery services.
As of Monday afternoon, no date had been set for the creation of the center, but local officials hoped for its completion soon.
Both the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office continued to operate within the city. Law enforcement duties have transitioned from emergency response to heavy patrols.
“We’ve got groups of agencies sweeping neighborhoods doing a proactive, preventive patrol,” said Ridgecrest Police Captain Justin Dampier. “We’re being available and seen so that (residents) that know if something goes down, we’ve got enough emergency personnel to deal with it effectively.”
But many aftershocks have kept local residents on edge.
“We’re slowly evolving back to where we need to be, but there’s still a cloud of uncertainty around many aspects of the community,” Dampier added.
Soon, the process of rebuilding will begin, which can be difficult as the prospect of a third large earthquake looms over the city.
However, after a community meeting Sunday evening that attracted around 600 people, residents remained resilient despite the hardship they had been through.
“I think there is a real need for spiritual and emotional support services to continue,” said Supervisor Mick Gleason, whose district covers Ridgecrest. “I’m looking forward to us slowly getting back to our normal routines. Hopefully mother nature will cooperate with us."