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Quake-Hit Calif. Residents Brace for 1000s of Smaller Aftershocks

Thousands of smaller aftershocks are expected over the next several days

Earthquakes detected between 10:00 a.m., July 7 and 10:00 a.m., July 8

Average magnitude 1.8

Source: USGS

Will Robesky and his family, including four children, were in the backyard of their Ridgecrest home in the desert north of Los Angeles when Friday's earthquake toppled a block wall and caused their pool water to surge in waves.

He's been searching for a sense of normalcy since the moment a magnitude-7.1 earthquake left his home and daily routine in disarray.

"We currently are all sleeping in the front room," said Robesky. "My kids are really scared. Every truck that drives by reignites that fear. Is this another aftershock? Is this another big one?

"We're just waiting for everything to get back to where it needs to be."

Waves of small earthquakes rattled already shaken residents overnight in the Mojave Desert community,  where the cleanup continues from two major quakes.  At least a dozen of the quakes, centered between 9 and 36 miles from Ridgecrest from 11:18 p.m. Sunday to 1:19 a.m. Monday, measured more that magnitude 3. The strongest was a magnitude-3.7 quake at 1:20 a.m.

The shallowest one, at 11:18 p.m. Sunday, was almost right at the surface while the deepest, at 18 minutes past midnight, was at 14.9 miles. Shallow quakes are more likely to be felt that those deep beneath Earth's surface.

As of Monday morning, there were nearly 3,000 aftershocks recorded in the area since Friday's magnitude-7.1 main shock and magnitude-6.4 Independence Day quake, the strongest earthquakes to hit Southern California in the last 20 years. They were centered 11 miles from the small desert town of Ridgecrest, about 150 miles north of Los Angeles.

Thousands of smaller aftershocks are expected over the next several days. The U.S. Geological Survey said there was just a 1 percent chance of another magnitude 7 or higher earthquake in the next week, and a rising possibility of no magnitude 6 quakes.

The quakes buckled highways and ruptured gas lines that sparked several house fires. About 50 homes in the nearby small town of Trona were damaged.

No one was killed or seriously injured, which authorities attributed to the remote location in the Mojave Desert. The desert floor itself was offset in some places, scarring the landscape.

All roads serving Ridgecrest, a town of 28,000 residents, were safe to drive again Sunday, water and power had been restored and bus service would resume Monday, Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said. He said homes were being inspected for damage and that all government buildings were declared safe.

Several hundred people at a community meeting Sunday evening in Ridgecrest were told to take precautions once running water returns to their homes after it was cut off by the two earthquakes that hit the town Thursday and Friday. Officials asked residents at the two-hour meeting to boil the water for at least several days once it comes back on.

Mayor Peggy Breeden said that two trucks with water are coming to Ridgecrest and the nearby small town of Trona.

Several people at the meeting in the Kerr McGee Community Center said that they will need counseling after dealing with the disruptions caused by the earthquakes, which included sleeping outside of their homes. Breeden told residents that they had proved their toughness.

"Let's hear it for Ridgecrest!" she said to a standing ovation.

Residents of the nearby town of Trona, southwest of Death Valley, reported electricity had been restored but water and gas service was still out at many homes. People in the town of about 2,000 lined up for free water that California National Guard soldiers handed out at Trona High School.

"I just picked up a couple cases for me and my dog," said Jeb Haleman, adding that his home of 40 years otherwise escaped unscathed.

When Friday's quake struck he said he was about 10 stories off the ground working on a boiler at the Searles Valley Minerals plant.

"I was holding on for dear life," he said, laughing. "That was quite a ride."

With temperatures hovering around the 100-degree mark, Sgt. Robert Madrigal said the National Guard would provide water "just as long as they need us here."

The National Guard was sending 200 troops, logistical support and aircraft, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin said.

The California Office of Emergency Services brought in cots, water and meals and set up cooling centers in the region, Director Mark Ghilarducci said.