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Recovery begins after Humboldt earthquake

A stone fireplace has been ripped off the side of a home and toppled down, propped up against a car.
Godofredo A. Vásquez
A home damaged by an earthquake can be seen in Rio Dell, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A strong earthquake shook a rural stretch of Northern California early Tuesday, jolting residents awake, cutting off power to thousands of people, and damaging some buildings and a roadway, officials said.

After a devastating 6.4 magnitude earthquake on the Northern California coast Tuesday, residents are assessing the damage.

Fire departments in Humboldt County have already been out surveying homes and businesses to find out the extent of the damage.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Tuesday to begin providing financial assistance.

 “So many of the recovery efforts are already underway," said Ryan Derby, the emergency operations center director for the earthquake recovery. "But it’s the financial recovery and getting people into more long term housing that could take some time.”

Derby said his office is gathering reports on the extent of the damage throughout the region.

He said the local and state emergency declarations in the county will help direct funding to people who may have had their homes destroyed. In Rio Dell, Derby says at least 35 buildings have already been condemned.

 “We do live in earthquake country so many of our residents know to expect this," Derby said. "With it being so close to the holiday, naturally this upset the plans of a lot of people.”

Crews are currently working on getting essential infrastructure up and running. According to Pacific Gas & Electric, power has been restored to most residents in the county.

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the JPR newsroom.