RIO DELL, Calif. - In times of disaster, it’s no surprise the community of Rio Dell has come together to provide aid to people impacted by Tuesday’s magnitude 6.4 earthquake.
Neighbors are donating supplies, opening up their homes, and organizations such as World Central Kitchen are providing free meals. Those meals are a much appreciated gesture when people don’t have running water, electricity, or even a place to stay.
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Sam Bloch, Director of Emergency Response for World Central Kitchen, drove up to Humboldt County Tuesday night from the Bay Area. He said World Central Kitchen (WCK) has paid for two food trucks and a local restaurant to provide free meals to people. By midday Wednesday, WCK had given out more than a thousand plates.
"I don't think I've met a single person whose had a hot meal since the earthquake hit," Bloch said. "You'll have a car show up with two people, and they're like, ‘My neighbor has six people. Can I take food to them?’ It's a very strong sense of community out here."
Bloch said WCK is also providing food 10 miles north at the Fortuna Fireman's Pavilion. It’s where an emergency shelter has been set up by the American Red Cross.
"We had 11 people stay the night in the shelter last night, and we probably have 30 or 40 in the shelter right now," Mark Mowrey, a Red Cross Registered Nurse, said. "Ninety-percent or 95 percent of them are charging their phones."
"It’s nice to see the Red Cross, fire departments, emergency services have all come together and help people out," he said.
Rio Dell is ground zero. There’s no running water, no electricity, and some people can't back to their homes.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency to free up funds, expedite contracting, and speed up recovery.
For now, something as small as a warm meal goes a long way.
"Until the water and electricity comes back on, we'll be here," Bloch said. "We're hoping that at least the residents' water will come back on by Christmas."
State officials are tallying the cost of the damage, but at this point it doesn't appear that FEMA will step in. A spokesperson for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services said the amount of damage may fall well below what is needed to qualify for federal aid.