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Earthquakes rock local residents

Colfax woman says she waited to be frightened, but never was
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Two earthquakes had some local residents wondering what was going on Wednesday and Thursday. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake hit an area about 9 miles from Whitehawk, which is about 40 miles to the north of Truckee, at 11:37 p.m. Wednesday. A second 3.6 magnitude quake started just east of Berkeley at 5:36 a.m. Thursday. The Berkeley earthquake was felt about 80 miles away and the Whitehawk event about 120 miles away. Jack Boatwright, a seismologist and coordinator for earthquake hazards in Northern California for the U.S. Geological Survey, said about 110 people in the Placer County area said they felt the Whitehawk quake on the agency’s “Did You Feel It?” website. A few people also said they felt the Berkeley activity, Boatwright said. Not as many people past the Sacramento limits felt the Whitehawk earthquake, Boatwright said. Boatwright said while the agency hadn’t heard of any damage from the quakes, there could have been some local damage in homes or businesses. Foresthill resident Daniel West, editor of The Foothill Inquirer, said he and others felt the Whitehawk quake. “It woke me and my family up at about 11:40 p.m.,” West said. “It only lasted about half a minute. It is the first earthquake I have ever felt. A neighbor who lives off Blackhawk Road above Foresthill e-mailed me this morning and said that it woke him up, and another person e-mailed me and said they felt it where they live on Donner Summit.” Colfax resident Angela Brock said it was also her first experience with an earthquake. “It woke me up and first I thought it was a train,” Brock said. “I was wondering what kind of train was this. And then, when I woke up more fully, I realized that the walls and the pictures, everything, was shaking. Then my dogs went nuts. I’m upstairs — we have a two-story house. And my son, downstairs, he slept through it. He didn’t feel anything. I think it made a difference being on the second story. It’s the first earthquake I have felt.” Sandra Delong, of Colfax, said the earthquake also woke her up. “It was dark and I was sleeping,” Delong said. “And I have been through an earthquake before in Los Angeles in the 1970s I guess, and I’m attuned to that. And I think the last one was in Truckee and I felt it here. I’m right at Rollins Lake, and I could hear it and kind of feel it. I could hear the house rumbling. Then when I got up this morning, the pictures all over the house were kind of crooked.” Delong said nothing was broken in her home and the quake didn’t seem like a huge deal. “I have been in them before,” she said. “It seemed like a small one. I wasn’t really frightened. I was waiting to be frightened, but it didn’t happen, luckily.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Tips for staying safe during an earthquake and what to do before one • Duck underneath something, preferably a table or desk • Get in a doorway if nothing is available to take cover under • Stay inside – some residents are hurt by pieces falling off the outside of buildings during earthquakes • Have 72 hours of water in your home • Have a plan of how to contact your family and where to meet them after the earthquake stops Source: Jack Boatwright, U.S. Geological Survey ------------------------------------------------------ How does the U.S. Geological Survey measure earthquakes? In Northern California in the Sierra there are a sparse network of seismometers, according to Jack Boatwright, a seismologist and coordinator for earthquake hazards in Northern California for the U.S. Geological Survey. Boatwright said when an earthquake takes place, it radiates seismic signals, which are recorded on the machines. The agency takes the arrival time of the energy on the seismometers and can figure out where the earthquake took place. A station near the Whitehawk earthquake Wednesday night also allowed the agency to figure out how deep the activity was, Boatwright said. The magnitude of a quake is determined by the amplitude and duration of shaking seen on the seismometers, Boatwright said.