RIDGECREST (CBSLA) — Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake remained closed Tuesday as base officials continued to clean up and conduct repairs of damage caused by the two big earthquakes that rocked nearby Ridgecrest.
The base — which is located in the Mojave Desert and straddles Kern, San Bernardino and Inyo counties – was declared “not mission capable until further notice” after the magnitude-7.1 earthquake that struck the area Friday night.
The base had already been in recovery mode after a magnitude-6.4 earthquake hit Ridgecrest on the morning of Fourth of July. That process restarted all over after the bigger temblor struck the next night.
The base was evacuated Saturday, and access has been restricted to mission essential personnel only since then.
CBS2’s Kandiss Crone was among a group of reporters who were escorted on a tour of the base Tuesday. Reporters were allowed into the commissary, where much of the ceiling was missing and shelves were emptied of food and products that had been thrown about. Workers were busy cleaning up glass, debris and damaged products from the commissary’s aisles.
The base’s chapel was heavily damaged – the earthquakes left a gaping hole in one of the steeple walls and an altar was destroyed. The chapel has been red-tagged and Chaplain Robert Crabb says events have been canceled.
“It’s a place where so many things have happened – weddings, funerals, baptisms, all kinds of things,” Crabb said. “We have a deep-seated connection with this chapel, so anytime this chapel is not in operation…it is a little bit of distress.”