City: File your damage reports ASAP

Agencies coordinating Local Assistance Center to give residents one-stop-shop for getting needs met

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

City: File your damage reports ASAPAs the aftershocks from last week’s destructive earthquakes in and around the Indian Wells Valley begin to subside, the City of Ridgecrest has begun setting up a process for residents to report residential and commercial damages from the quakes.

At Sunday afternoon’s Town Hall meeting, Incident Commander-Ridgecrest Police Department Chief Jed McLaughlin announced that RPD is working with the California Office of Emergency Services to set up a Local Assistance Center to give residents seeking services a single focal point.

City Manager Ron Strand said that they are hoping to have that set up within a week, but will be reporting updates to the community as soon as the information is available.

The city building department is bringing in a group of home inspectors that will be assessing damages for residents. E-mailing quakedamages@ridgecrest-ca.gov is the fastest way to get into that queue, said Strand.

“One thing to keep in mind is that people may need to be patient. If we have 300-400 people requesting an assessment, and 6-8 inspectors, it will take time to work through all of the requests.”

So far, city officials are awaiting official declaration of a federal emergency before they know what kind of funding is available for impacted residents.

“There’s a process that we are working through,” said Strand. Kern County and the state of California have already declared a state of emergency. The Ridgecrest City Council will convene Wednesday evening to make a declaration as a formality.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom was in Ridgecrest Saturday, he said that he had confirmation from President Donald Trump that federal support would be forthcoming.

In the meantime, Desert Valleys Federal Credit Union CEO Eric Bruen announced that his branch is offering $1,000,000 in loans — up to $1,000 per individual — to those seeking to meet immediate needs, including purchase of food and supplies. (For information see DVFCU Facebook Page).

Lauren Skidmore, district director for Assemblyman Vince Fong, said that her office is working with Speaker Anthony Rendon to find out what financial avenues are available for residents in need of relief.

“We encourage our constituents to call our office if they have any questions or concerns,” she said. They can be reached at 661-395-2995.

Numerous private donors have also rallied to assist individuals who are in need of repairs. Ridge Project has had a private donor contribute $50,000. Volunteers of that organization as well as the Ridgecrest Ministerial Association have begun to collaborate in order to help complete repairs, said Strand.

“One of the things we are working on is trying to find a way to get all of these groups together so that we can coordinate our efforts.”

For individuals who have been displaced, the Red Cross is still operating a shelter with cots, showers and food at Kerr McGee Center.

“They have told us they will remain in place as long as they are needed,” said McLaughlin.

Early reports indicate that 40 homes in the Ridgecrest area have been red-tagged, and more are waiting to be assessed.

“Essentially, anything that is structurally unsafe will be red-tagged,” said Strand. “This could mean anything from offset walls to failing roofs to disconnected foundations to broken gaslines to busted septic tanks.

“Our priority right now is to get these reports on record. If your property has been damaged, we need to know.”

Strand said that having comprehensive reports will be critical to getting the state and federal assistance needed for recovery efforts.

“In the meantime, residents also need to be prepared for 3-4 days of independence on the off chance this happens again,” said Strand.

“We are on the way to recovery, but we are not fully out of the woods yet.”

Pictured: Police Chief Jed McLaughlin, Assemblyman Vince Fong’s District Director Lauren Skidmore and City Manager Ron Strand discuss how to go about reporting damages.

Story First Published: 2019-07-08