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South Valley Journal

Minor damage, public safety fully functional as officials still assess damage from 5.7 earthquake

Mar 18, 2020 01:36PM ● By Travis Barton
By Travis Barton | [email protected]

West Valley City residents awoke this morning to a 5.7-magnitude earthquake, the epicenter of which was in neighboring Magna. 

West Valley City officials, including City Manager Wayne Pyle and Fire Chief John Evans both reported in Facebook Live videos for residents to remain calm as the city assesses the damage. 

So far, the worst of it was found in a mobile home park at approximately 7200 West and 2700 South where approximately 48 trailers were sheared off their foundations. Utilities to the mobile home park have been shut down. Officials estimated about 30-50 people were displaced from their home. 

"We're taking care of those folks," Pyle said. 

A Red Cross Evacuation Center is set up at Valley Junior High at 3200 West and 4200 South for those who feel unsafe in their homes or have been displaced. The school was chosen due to its ability to adhere to coronavirus protocols. The shelter will serve as a regional location. 

Only two injuries have been reported, both minor. One fell while another was struck by falling debris. Another resident had their door jammed as a result from the earthquake, but authorities were able to extricate the individual. 

Both Pyle and Evans said all public safety is fully functioning. Pyle said the call volume this morning "has been fairly normal. I think that's  a pretty good indicator that we're in pretty good shape out there." 

Evans said residents should still call if they need something. "Keep calm, if you need something, you can still call."

As for other city damage, Evans said "fortunately, there hasn't been much damage to structures," with much of the damage around the city being cosmetic. 

There are power outages in areas of the city, with intersection lights off. Officials have recommended people stay in their homes unless they have to leave to allow crews uninhibited access to assess damage and fix the power situation.

Officials were quick remind the public that COVID-19 protocols are still in place. 

"My bigger concern is that this is going to distract us from the COVID-19 response and how people are responding to that," Pyle said. "So my request and advice is that everybody maintain that same discipline that you were before."

He added people don't need to rush the grocery store.

City officials currently have their command center set up in the parking lot at city hall to coordinate plans of action and communication. Building inspectors are currently dispatched assessing damage.  

State officials, including director of the seismograph station at the University of Utah Keith Koper,  informed the public at a press conference this morning to be wary of misinformation, dispelling a rumor that another, much larger earthquake was imminent. Officials stated a 9.0-magnitude earthquake isn't possible in the valley along the fault line here and that they expected the 5.7-earthquake would be the largest earthquake. 

Koper said there is a 5% chance of another, larger earthquake, but that those chances will continue to decrease. 

"This is a great city, this is going to pass, just like the flu virus out there we're also facing," Pyle said. "So we're relying on everyone out there to do their thing."

Questions regarding other services such as utilities can visit this link to speak with providers.