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Town cleans up after earthquake

With preliminary assessments complete, small town finds it does not qualify for federal aid.

WELLS, NV | February 25, 2008

City officials learned this week that damage from last week's earthquake is not extensive enough to qualify for federal aid.

“I'm very upset at the lack of respect at the federal level for the human factor,” Mayor Rusty Tybo told the Elko (NV) Daily Free Press. Tybo said he is concerned about elderly and other people whose homes were damaged and are now living in temporary housing.

Despite the decision of Federal response officials, emergency management officials say local citizens may qualify for up to $28,800 in state aid and low interest loans.

Last week, an unusual 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit this small northeastern Nevada town. It was the first earthquake to hit this region in more than 150 years and many of the residents do not have earthquake insurance.

This year's major snowstorms complicated inspections. Wells had received 58-inches of snow so far this year and another major storm is predicted for this week. With buildings weakened in the earthquake, officials said they were concerned a significant snowfall could cause roof damage.

School officials plan to reopen the local elementary school Wednesday, but may have to make other arrangements for students who had attended the junior/senior high school. The high school's gymnasium and auditorium will not be able to be used for months and the quake caused serious damage to the rest of the structure as well. The school system has earthquake insurance.

More than 350 residents attended a meeting Saturday where they were warned that aftershocks are likely to continue for years. Dozens of smaller quakes have been felt throughout the region. Ken Smith, of the University of Nevada, told residents that he believes "there is a very low probability of more big earthquakes." He said the strong quake Thursday was not in an area that had previously been identified as a fault.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Utah, Professor Robert B. Smith, former director of the university's seismograph station said the Wells event should be treated as a warning of things to come.

Citing mathematical calculations, he said a moderate earthquake, similar to the size of the Wells' tremblor, has a 25 percent chance of happening along the Wasatch Fault in the next 50 years. If it were to hit a Wasatch Front city, he told the Salt Lake City Tribune Friday, it could cause billions of dollars in damage. Less than 5 percent of Utah residents have earthquake insurance.


Related Files:

Map of Wells Quake.pdf

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CA overdue for major 'quake

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