TRONA (CBSLA) — Residents of the San Bernardino County community of Trona packed a town hall meeting Wednesday to ask questions and get help in recovering from the two big earthquakes that rocked the area last week.
Many residents of the tiny unincorporated community of barely 2,000 people have been without water since the first magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck on the Fourth of July. A more powerful 7.1 earthquake rocked the area again the following night.
Representatives of several agencies were on hand at Wednesday’s town hall meeting to answer questions. But most of the attendees had only one question – when will the water come back on?
“We haven’t had water for almost a week, and there’s a lot of the elderly people here without water,” resident Stephen Surles said.
San Bernardino County crews are out in the area assessing the damage. The earthquakes knocked out the town’s power, which was restored on Monday. Miraculously, the earthquake did not bring down any buildings or cause any significant damage.
Except for apparently taking out the town’s running water.
“Air conditioners don’t work real good out here, so it’s usually evaporated cooler,” Jonathan Schmid said. “Can’t run that. It’s 93 degrees inside my house.”
The water needed to run evaporated coolers is becoming especially urgent, with temperatures on the rise. Trona is forecast to hit triple digits all week.
The National Guard was deployed to the community earlier this week to hand out cases of water to residents and pets. Portable showers were set up at the local high school Tuesday, and bulk water was delivered to help hydrate livestock.
Residents in especially dire straits were being directed to go to Ridgecrest, about 24 miles away, for more help – but resident Brian Tuttle says that advice is no good for the low-income, disabled and elderly members of the community.
“There’s a lot of people that can’t. They don’t have vehicles, they don’t have any way out of their homes to get over there,” he said.