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A 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits California

Aired August 24, 2014 - 08:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. So glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul at CNN headquarters in Atlanta.

And we're so grateful to have you with NEW DAY SUNDAY, as we start with this breaking news out of California this hour. A 6.1 magnitude earthquake has rocked the San Francisco Bay Area, in Napa in particular. This epicenter was only six miles south of Napa, 51 miles from Sacramento.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this is the largest quake to hit the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989.

And here are some pictures that we're getting to put in perspective. That '89 quake, by the way, had a magnitude of 6.9. This one is 6.1. Obviously, it's 5:00 in the morning there, so far no immediate reports of injuries, but the USGS estimates more than 100,000 people experienced very strong shaking.

In fact, I got one from Russell Simmons on my Facebook page. He said that it was huge. It felt stronger that '89. He thought perhaps because he was closer to the center.

He said it didn't last as long, though, but it felt like it was a long time. He said, "I was on my couch. It felt like I was riding a bucking horse. I live about three miles from the center. Felt like my house bounced off the ground. My pool water was sloshing out and I thought my whole house was going to collapse."

So, meteorologist Jennifer Gray, you've been watching this. And look at this picture here, this picture looks like the top of a building collapsed in some regards and we're hearing that -- we're hearing even on Twitter people are bracing for aftershocks, that there are cracks in Highway 37 and cracks on Highway 121.

The picture you're looking at here is from Napa, again, which was closest, right, Jen, to the epicenter?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it was about six miles south of Napa. These are brick buildings. We're seeing bricks on the ground, you know, these buildings are having trouble, foundations, things like that. So, we've already seen several aftershocks. You can see the map

right here, Google Earth, we have it pulled up right where this happened. If we can zoom in just a little bit, you can see, there is the 6.1 magnitude right there, you can see the largest dot and all these little dots around it. Those are those aftershocks.

You can expect aftershocks sometimes several days after. Of course, the next 24 hours will be crucial, but we could expect aftershocks for several days from now. And so, it is going to be a crucial moment for the next 24 hours. But some of the photos we are seeing very scary right there by the center, Christi.

And we're talking about this being the strongest one since that 1989 earthquake, and that was when the World Series were going on, the Giants were in the World Series, and it happened during the game. And so, they do think that since the game was going on, that's why there wasn't as much loss of life because so many people were off the road, they were either watching the game at home and so that may be another blessing.

In this case, people were on home, they were in bed, they weren't on the roads at the wee hours of the morning. I know it scared people to death, though, because --

PAUL: Right.

GRAY: -- they were, they were just woke up with all this violent shaking.

PAUL: Yes, I just want to take notice some of the pictures you're seeing here. This is a storefront I believe in Napa.

The picture before was a house on fire, Stephanie sent me that on Facebook, and that was in Napa as well.

Emily Massini is in the San Francisco Bay Area, OK, that's the home on fire, OK, that is coming from Stephanie Sheehan on Facebook, who sent that to me. Again, she's in Napa.

But Emily Massini is with us right now.

And, Emily, you are in the San Francisco Bay Area?

EMILY MASSINI, SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA RESIDENT (via telephone): Yes, that's correct. I'm actually right in the city of Napa.

PAUL: OK. So, what did you feel? I know we're looking at some I have your pictures, too, by the way.

MASSINI: Yes, I was asleep and was woken from my fairly deep sleep, felt like a ride, it felt much like being on a roller coaster, it felt like it was much longer than it was. It felt like it was occurring for five minutes before I fully realized what was going on

PAUL: So, talk to me about the damage that you've seen or the disruption that you've seen at your house. First, do you have power? MASSINI: I do not have power. We do not have water. First of

all, I'm thankful that I'm OK and everyone that I know is OK as well, too. I've got a lot of broken wine, being here in Napa, we all tend to collect wine so I have wine all over my kitchen and glass and pictures off the wall and books off of book shelves. And so on. So --

PAUL: Now have you ever been through an earthquake before?

MASSINI: I have not. I'm originally from the East Coast and this is my first real earthquake that I felt in the seven years that I've lived out here in Napa.

PAUL: Wow. Well, you know, as you said, I mean, first and foremost, we're grateful that you are OK and everybody you know is OK. It's so early in the morning, 5:00 a.m.

What kind of conversations are you having? Is everybody up? I mean, give us a sense of your neighborhood and what's going on.

MASSINI: Everyone is pretty much awake right now. It happened at 3:20 a.m. for us out here. So, there's a lot of sirens going off right now. I overheard there's fire here in Napa. I cannot see it from where I live but you can hear all of the sirens going around the city of Napa right now.

PAUL: Yes, in fact Stephanie wrote to us, "Napa is a disaster area right now. My house is completely trashed. All of the power's out. Broken water mains. Homes on fire."

Where do you even begin when you see this kind of damage in your house? I mean, I'm trying to get a good sense of what you're feeling like right now as you walk around and see the cleanup that you have to do and trying to discern whether anything that's valuable to you is broken. The pictures are just mind-boggling.

MASSINI: Yes, it's just kind of starting from one small corner to the next. I've started trying to pick up my kitchen, that's really where the most of the damage occurred there with things falling out of cabinets and so on. So, just trying to do it piece by piece and remember that I'm OK and everyone that I know is OK. It could have been a lot worse.

PAUL: Absolutely, no doubt about it. Have you felt any aftershocks there, Emily?

MASSINI: Thankfully no, I have not. But I've kind of prepared myself and have taken any pictures that didn't already fall down, I have taken them off of the wall now.

PAUL: Just to be safe.

Well, hey, Emily, stick with us. But thank you so much for giving us a sense of what it's like there.

MASSINI: All right. PAUL: We're wishing all of you certainly the very, very best,

keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

Augie is with us as well. He's a producer for CNN in the Bay Area.

Augie, tell us again what you experienced there.

AUGIE MARTIN, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): Yes, well, I'm actually about 25 miles south of the epicenter in San Francisco proper, and it felt like a pretty good quake. It was one of the rolling types of quakes. So, it wasn't a super sharp jolt, but it was sort of a consistent rolling, soft type quake that lasted I'd say probably 25 or 30 seconds.

And, you know, it ought have to caused a fair amount of damage up in the North Bay in terms of cleaning up shelves and things like that. Closer you get to the quake the heavier the shaking should have been. So, we're seeing a lot of pictures of damaged stores and shelves and kitchens and that sort of stuff.

So, the unreinforced masonry buildings would probably be the ones to be the most concerned about.

PAUL: I'm sorry, the what?

MARTIN: The unreinforced masonry buildings.

PAUL: Right.

MARTIN: Brick buildings, those are typically the ones that are the older buildings in that part of the Bay Area, and the less strong in a quake like this.

PAUL: We're getting reports from the USGS 106,000 people experienced some very strong shaking. I have a tweet here from Craig who says "I am in San Francisco, it woke me up. I was here in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, thought this might be the big one."

Did you get any sense of that, Augie? Did you fear this is the one people talk about will eventually hit, they believe?

MARTIN: Frankly, no, but you never know how far away you are from the epicenter of the earthquake when its eight ongoing, and being a Bay Area native I thought it was lower than a 6. But it turns out after the fact that San Francisco proper was some 25 miles from the actual epicenter, so you know, it puts it in context that it's the largest quake we've had in some 25 years since that '89 Loma Prieta quake but initially it doesn't look like it was on the San Andreas fault, which is the one that typically gets the most press, the San Andreas fault runs to the South and West of where this quake was centered.

So, this quake was on an entirely different fault line or at least it would appear so. But, you know, it was -- it's sort of an omnipresent danger out here. We live with the fear of earthquakes all the time. We've been way overdue for a long time.

Our neighbors to the south in Southern California have had a much more, a lot more quakes in the last 6 to 12 months, though generally smaller.

But we haven't really had any significant quakes up here in Northern California for some time. So, we're all very aware that we've been overdue for some time. So --

PAUL: Well, we're so glad that you're OK, too, Augie, and Emily as well, who we spoke with. Emily is in Napa.

Again, if you're just joining us, this is a 6.1 magnitude quake that has rocked California this morning. It's only 5:10 in the morning out there, but it seems an awful lot of people are wake, some of them on Twitter say they're bracing for aftershocks, there's significant damage as you can see from these pictures, these are storefronts. There's a building that partially collapsed in Napa. We have' had reports from some people on twitter and pictures of, as you see here, a house on fire there in Napa.

Jessica Turner, a geophysicist with USGS is going to be talking to us more in just a moment. Do stay close. We're back in just a second.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: What a morning it is, actually overnight we should say for folks in California, as we are getting inundated with information about the 6.1 magnitude quake that hit just six miles south of Napa. It woke up residents in northern California. It is the largest to shake the Bay Area since the 1989 6.9 Loma Prieta quake. Remember this is 6.1 and these are some of the latest pictures we're getting here.

This is in from Napa. You can see part of a building has collapsed. People have been tweeting to us and on Facebook have been telling me what they felt. One said, "It wasn't just a one sharp jolt, but there were several." There are a lot of people who were surprised by the duration, they said it lasted an awful long time.

And we are just getting in some video that we want to share with you, this is from an in-home security, let's listen here -- in-home security system.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an earthquake. It's an earthquake.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an earthquake. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an earthquake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an earthquake. It's a strong earthquake, no?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's an aftershock.



PAUL: OK, again, the quake struck about 3:20, you saw that girl there, I don't know if you could hear it initially, as it's shaking, a woman comes out at the top of the stairs. I believe there's maybe a daughter at the bottom here. She's calling for mom. Mom's saying something about an earthquake.

Obviously, very, very frightening for people experiencing this.

Jessica Turner, a geophysicist with the USGS is with us now.

Jessica, what do you make of the 6.1 quake? What was your first thought as you heard about it and as you're seeing the pictures now?

JESSICA TURNER, USGS (via telephone): First of all, I thought to myself, I guess it's been a while since this area has seen this size of an earthquake. And second of all I wanted to be sure people were able to get information as quickly as possible.

But, yes, hearing about the moderate damage maybe happening in the Napa area. It is to be expected of this size earthquake in this area of California.

PAUL: Some people were saying that they thought this was the big one, at 6.1, what kind of aftershocks might we expect?

TURNER: Usually, with this size of earthquake and the aftershocks that come after it, we'll expect something about one magnitude smaller, so around a magnitude 5.0, we could expect to see in the aftershock.

PAUL: So, we could expect a 5.0 aftershock?

TURNER: It's possible. We tend to see that, about that range, but we haven't located anything of that size yet. There's only been a handful of aftershocks located and none of them above a 2.5. So, it's --


TURNER: So far, they're small.

PAUL: Again, we're watching this video and you can see the panic in the people who are inside the house, understandably. We've seen pictures of crumbled brick buildings. We've seen pictures of people -- the inside of their homes that are just so, they look ransacked. What kind of safety precautions would you give people as we go

through, you know, the next few hours, few days, expecting possible aftershocks?

TURNER: Right. Well, California is one of the better prepared states for earthquakes, so that's a great first step. People should make sure that their heavy furniture is kind of bolted to the walls in case there is heavy and intense shaking those things don't fall on anybody, because that, of course, will hurt people.

And if you know you're in a building that is not able to withstand strong shaking, maybe you should check into making sure that it is able to withstand strong shaking. And nowadays, when California is building buildings, they do keep that in mind.

PAUL: OK, I'm sorry, I'm listening to several things here at once.

But Georgia wrote to us saying it felt like rolling, long movements versus short ones. Another person, Jim, tweeted to me that it wasn't just one sharp jolt, it was several.

What does that movement, that difference in movement that they have able to distinguish tell you about a this particular earthquake and what is yet to come, if possible?

TURNER: That could just mean that they were at different distances from where the earthquake occurred. If you're closer to the earthquake, you're going to feel more intense shaking and the further away you get, the less intense the shaking will be.

PAUL: All righty. Well, listen, thank you so much, Jessica. We appreciate your help, helping us walk through this.

I had one gentleman who wrote to me saying, "I'm in San Francisco. It woke me up. I was here in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Thought this might be the big one."

We're talking to him next. Stay close.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an earthquake. It's an earthquake.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an earthquake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an earthquake.


PAUL: All right. That is video from an in-home camera security system in Hercules, California, and Camille Freking is with us now and she was in that house when it happened.

Camille, we want to thank you so much for being with us.

Are you OK? Are you and everybody OK, first of all?

CAMILLE FREKING, FELT EARTHQUAKE IN CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Everyone's OK, just a little rattled, having trouble getting back to sleep.

PAUL: Yes, you're going to attempt to go back -- well, I guess it is, what, 5:30 in the morning there. Help us, we're seeing what happened, but help us understand the feeling of it, for those of us who have not been in something like this.

FREKING: I mean, it's kind of a shock, that's the biggest earthquake I've ever been in. I was asleep on the couch downstairs and then you wake up, I thought it was a thunderstorm, and then, all of a sudden, I see the chandelier in the ding room shaking, everything's just, things that are on tables are falling off, I hear glass breaking. So, I ran upstairs to regroup with my family. My little brother is 11 years old. He's startled and rattled as well.

PAUL: How prepared are you for and your family for something like this? Have you had drills? Have you talked about what you would do if this happened?

FREKING: Yes, actually, we were all gathering together, we were going to go outside if it went on any longer and the reason, you know, you don't see the camera fall off the cabinet is because we have the cabinet and the TVs bolted into the wall in case of something like that, but the things inside the cabinet can't really do anything about.

PAUL: Are you in a neighborhood, perhaps, where, have you talked to your neighbors? Have you seen anything outside that has been damaged?

FREKING: No immediate damage to our neighborhood. We have a homeowners association. So, hopefully, we will be able to regroup through there. Everyone has each other's contact information.

PAUL: Hercules, California, where exactly is that? Where are you in terms of the epicenter? Can you gauge?

FREKING: It's 15 miles from American Canyon.


FREKING: Fifteen miles south, southwest.


And did you say you have or have not ever been through an earthquake?

FREKING: The closest thing I've been to an earthquake simulator at the Academy of Sciences. But that's the biggest one I've actually felt because anything before they've been smaller, maybe 3s or 4s at most.

PAUL: We've heard people describe it as a rolling movement, as opposed to short jolts. What did you -- can you tell?

FREKING: It's definitely rolling.

PAUL: It was definitely rolling?

FREKING: Definitely.

PAUL: And how is your 11-year-old brother doing? You said that he was frightened.

I'm just wondering how you all deal with the aftermath of this, and what kind of other damage you might have to be cleaning up.

FREKING: I mean, we already checked on like the water heater, all the gas connections. Everything's fine in terms of that. I think the two boys are just a little shaken up. I mean, he came out of the bathroom and said, "I wonder why I'm shaking." I feel bad for him but he's dealing with it pretty well.

PAUL: You don't have any interruption of power, do you?

FREKING: Not that we've experienced yet.

PAUL: OK, and your water is still going as well?

FREKING: Water is fine.

PAUL: All righty. Well, I'll tell you what, I just want to thank you for sharing this video with us.


PAUL: When did you discover you had it? At what point did you say oh my gosh, I wonder if our in-home security camera caught this?

FREKING: It was in the process of cleaning up because actually right next to the camera, where you see the chandelier towards the right there's a ding table under that and one of our glass candleholders fell over and broke so while we were cleaning that up, you know, peered up and popped into our heads maybe we caught something.

PAUL: What was it like to watch it again, after feeling it?

FREKING: It was kind of startling, I mean, because the clip you had is already cut. We had to look for it in the five seconds or so, the five-second silence just waiting for it to happen, we were all pretty nervous, and then watching it happen, seeing things shake kind of puts things into perspective for us. I'm glad we were all able to meet up and then it kind of had a sense of what was going to happen, what we wanted to do, if it did continue on.

PAUL: Well, Camille Freking in Hercules, California, we're grateful you are all OK, that it's first and foremost and thank you for giving us, this gives us perspective of what you all were going through and what happened there in California. Thank you so much.

Again, 6.1 magnitude earthquake, this is according to USGS, the largest quake to hit the Bay Area since the famed Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989. We have more people we're talking to in a moment as we go to break here with some of the pictures you're going to look at, more of this in a moment.