Hundreds of homes damaged in NV

Nearly every house in Wells, NV damaged in Thursday morning earthquake - few residents are thought to have insurance.

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | WELLS, NV | February 22, 2008


DAMAGED -- The Nifty Thrifty shop in Wells, NV was one of at least 700 structures damaged in an earthquake.
Credit: Elaine Swanson

Residents of this small northeastern Nevada city were shaken awake Thursday morning when a strong earthquake was centered nearby damaging nearly every structure in the community of 1,500. Few residents are thought to have quake insurance.

Despite all of the damage, just three minor injuries were reported.

"It was just horrendous to wake up (to the earthquake). . .just so scary . . . and to hear all the glass breaking around us," said Elaine Swanson who has lived in Wells for 40 years. Swanson said Thursday night that few of her neighbors have earthquake insurance.

Dozens of afterschocks occured Thursday, following the strong 6.0 magnitude quake that struck shortly after 6 a.m. local time.

At least 35 families were staying at a shelter set up at the local elementary school Thursday afternoon after being told their homes were so badly damaged the families could not return.

"There are 700 residential structures and every one of them, and every business structure has sustained damage," said Tom Turk, a regional forester with the Nevada Division of Forestry who is serving as the city's public information officer for the quake.

Homes were not the only buildings damaged. Many stores and the local high school were also seriously damaged. Some of the school buildings on the high school campus including the gym, may have to be destroyed. Damage to the city's water system prompted health officials to urge residents to use bottled water and/or boil tap water.

Stuart's Foodtown, the city's only grocery store was also badly damaged. Associated Foods, parent company for the local grocery, sent a team of disaster responders and promised emergency supplies would be available to residents.

Wells Presyterian Church, was built a century ago on a foundation of large rocks. The church had discussed building a proper foundation this summer. But that plan may have moved from a discussion to a requirement. Swanson, Clerk of the Session for the church said a building inspection Thursday that several of the timbers under the sanctuary and several of the foundation rocks were knocked out. Thursday night church officials were discussing where the congregation will meet until the sanctuary is safe to use again.

Many area residents attended an informational meeting Thursday night organized by the city that featured representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross.


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