A house was on the market. It was red-tagged in a 6.4 quake

After moving to Rio Dell, California about a year ago, Gage Allen Dupper found a quaint home to share with a married couple.

Dupper said the couple was in the process of selling the two-bedroom, one-bath home when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck northern California before sunrise Tuesday, striking about 7½ miles offshore southwest of nearby Ferndale.

“We had it online. We had real estate agents helping people go through and try to sell the house,” said Dupper, 24. “And it happened at such a perfect time that we were almost done with an offer letter — and then it all fell apart .”

When he was jolted awake by the 2:34 a.m. tremor, Dupper said he assumed the tremor was just another mild tremor in an area they knew.

“We have them frequently, but when we woke up and decided to leave the building, we walked out our front door and our porch was two feet higher than usual,” he said. “We found that our entire foundation was completely gone.”

Dupper said the owners were too desperate to speak to the Times and efforts to reach them had not been successful.

He said the home suffered gas and water leaks, and the entire street was evacuated for several hours. The earthquake cut power to tens of thousands of people in Humboldt County and left residents of Rio Dell without water. Dupper said he left the house with only the clothes on his back, his wallet and his phone.

He was later informed that the house had been red-flagged.

A red sign declares a house unsafe.

A sign declares a house unsafe after an earthquake.

(Andrea Wrisley)

“The house is completely devastated,” he said. “It’s uninhabitable because pipes have burst and the foundation is gone – it’s not a safe place. Police said you must go and cross the bridge or there could be consequences. It’s a very scary thing.”

Dupper, who works at an assisted living facility, went to work around 3am and has been there ever since. He said he plans to spend the night in the activity room until he has long-term plans for accommodation.

Cindy Pridmore, a geologist with the California Geological Survey, warned of the dangers of living in unstable or weakened structures after an earthquake.

The earthquake, which killed at least two people and injured 11, was followed by at least 80 aftershocks, three of which registered a magnitude of 3.9 or greater, Pridmore said.

According to the US Geological Survey earthquake forecast, there’s a 13% chance of a magnitude 5 or greater earthquake after the first shaker, but that could change, Pridmore said.

“People need to be prepared, especially when they are in vulnerable structures, to be mindful of where they are,” she said.

Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes told the Times that building inspectors were scouring the city to check the structural integrity of homes and other buildings.

Up to 150 residents are expected to be displaced by the quake and housed in Monument Middle School if the building is deemed structurally sound, city officials said. Otherwise they will be accommodated in the fire station.

“Our biggest problems are no electricity and no water. Structural damage is next on the list,” Garnes said. “Our water system has really been destroyed. So many leaks.”

Andrea Wrisley, 34, Dupper’s neighbor, was also evacuated because of a gas leak, but the foundation of her home only had a few cracks. Wrisley and her family were allowed back inside.

Wrisley, a lifelong Humboldt County resident, said she’s gotten used to earthquakes over the years, although she acknowledged that it can be heartbreaking for new residents.

“This was definitely the most serious we’ve had in quite some time,” she said. “Most of the time we have tiny shakers and we might lose a plate or a cup or something. This will definitely be intimidating for those less familiar with earthquakes.”

Dupper, who has lived in Chico and Puerto Rico in the past, said he hopes to stay in Rio Dell but was upset by the experience.

“If this is a consistent pattern and I can see that, I don’t know if I can [stay], not with the damage that was treated,” he said. “I’d love to stay here, but that’s not exactly a guarantee.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-20/a-house-was-on-the-market-it-was-red-tagged-in-a-6-4-quake A house was on the market. It was red-tagged in a 6.4 quake

Alley Einstein

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