With 82 Homes Currently Uninhabitable, Trona Seeking To Recover

The community of Trona is making a slow recovery on a multitude of fronts in the aftermath of the 6.4 and 7.1 Richter Scale magnitude earthquakes that hit the area on July 4 and July 5.
For a handful of the town’s residents and businesses, however, the devastation is proving more lasting.
Temblors and their aftershocks shook the earth and structures, cracked the earth and pavement, damaged underground water storage and pipelines, damaged or ruptured natural gas pipelines, damaged or cracked in some cases building foundations and above-ground elements of their structures, shifted buildings on their foundations and caused items and merchandise inside commercial and other buildings to come crashing down.
As early as Monday, July 8, personnel with the office of the county fire marshal and inspectors with the county land use services division were conducting inspections of properties and facilities in Trona, beginning with commercial buildings downtown that were likely to attract large numbers of members of the public.
Those structures were either red-tagged, yellow-tagged or green-tagged. Those red-tagged were deemed not habitable in their current condition, with a determination the structure has been severely damaged to the degree that it is too dangerous to inhabit. Those yellow-tagged were cataloged as moderately damaged to the degree that their habitability is limited, not suitable for overnight stays and useful only for limited occupancy. Those green-tagged were designated as suitable for habitation with no major damage noted.
According to the county, eight commercial buildings were red-tagged and four were yellow-tagged. Four underground storage fuel tanks were red-tagged. Among residential structures, 31 were red-tagged and 51 were yellow-tagged.
On Sunday July 14, the county posted on its website, “All initial inspections of earthquake damaged structures in Trona and nearby San Bernardino County communities have been completed by damage assessment teams led by the county fire marshal, including building inspectors from land use services.  Structures that were not tagged as yellow or red, can be assumed to be green-tagged, with no major damage noted. However, residents are encouraged to call land use services at 760-995-8140 or 909-387-8311 to request a follow-up inspection if they have particular safety concerns, or to re-evaluate the tag status, considering repairs (such as a gas line or other utility repair). Remember: A yellow tag means the occupant may enter briefly to retrieve essential items. A red tag means the building is not safe to enter. If you have a yellow or red tag, call for an inspection appointment to discuss the damage assessment and next steps.”
The Sentinel made an inquiry with the land use services department’s building and safety unit and was told that a red-tagged home is not to be considered to be uninhabitable into perpetuity or absolutely fated for demolition. Rather, critical repairs of the damage can in most cases be undertaken and effectuated by a registered and licensed contractor if all stages of the repair are suitably monitored and checked off by building and safety division inspectors.
Official governmental building inspections are to be compended into a single, full report which is to be sent to state and federal officials for review. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will ultimately determine if the earthquake damage meets the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act criteria/threshold for assistance, such as low interest loans.
Because of ruptures in the water supply line from Ridgecrest to Trona, the Searles Domestic Water Company had been unable to deliver water to its customers following the first of the two major quakes. Following the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency on July 5, bottled water was being distributed to residents of the community by July 8. Shortly thereafter, portable toilets and showers were brought into the community, the lion’s share of which were set up on or proximate to the Trona High School campus. As of Thursday, July 11, the Searles Domestic Water Company had restored water service to the entirety of the town, with the exception of a handful of isolated streets in one of the town’s neighborhoods. Though the integrity of the broken, cracked and leaking water mains had been restored, dirt and other contamination had made their way into the lines, and residents were advised to boil the tap water that was available. On July 17, it was announced that Trona residents no longer needed to boil their water for use in cooking, and that they could use the water for drinking purposes without concern for its purity. The county also informed the town’s residents that the company would not assess past due fees on its customers’ bills for July. The new phone numbers for customers to contact the Searles Domestic Water Company are 760-382-3776 and 760-382-8553.
Operations at the Trona Library, one of the few structures downtown that had not been red-tagged or yellow-tagged and which was converted to a cooling center during the post-earthquake crisis, returned to normal on July 18, with its standard hours restored. Normal operating hours are: Monday – Wednesday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Thursday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday: closed, Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday: closed.
Beginning on Monday, July 22, construction debris bins will be available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Trona Transfer Station, 13177 Trona Dump Road.  The dumpsters located at the Trona Library (82805 Mountain View, Trona, CA 93562) and Argus Area (across from Shell Station, 82275 Trona Road, Trona, CA 93562) will be removed today.  Trona residents in need of non-construction clean-up may call Team Rubicon, a volunteer organization, to request assistance at 310-640-8787.
Hazardous waste collection will take place Saturday, August 10 and Saturday, September 28 from 8 a.m. to noon at the San Bernardino County Fire Station, 83732 Trona Rd. in Trona.
Effective today, the local assistance center at Trona High School is to be closed, and a recovery center will open at 13207 Jones St. in Trona.

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