TRONA, California — When a 7.1- magnitude earthquake rocked the Southern California town of Trona last weekend just a day after a 6.4 foreshock, the Hatchett family decided they needed to stay out of the house.
“After being caught off-guard the second time, I'd rather sleep outside knowing I'm safe than be in there,” said Michael Hatchett.
Using sheets, blankets, and belts to tie them together, Hatchett built a shelter for his wife and two kids, ages 1 and 5, as they waited out the uncertainty of when another quake might hit.
“The biggest worry is that this earthquake is going to force us all out of here,” Hatchett said.
Trona is an unincorporated community near Death Valley, which has relied on its population of roughly 2,000 residents to rally support for their needs, especially in a time of crisis. But the damage from Friday’s earthquake — the largest to hit California in 20 years — has left residents of the remote town questioning Trona’s ability to bounce back.
“We’re kind of forgotten about out here,” said resident Julia Doss, the president of Trona Care, a community volunteer organization. "It's frightening to me because I've been trying so hard and getting resources. Getting funding has been difficult.”
While aftershocks have continued to roll through the area, residents have grappled with their new reality.
“It really bothers me. I'm young, I just got this house, I worked hard for this house, and now an earthquake is possibly going to take it out,” Hatchett said. “Just trying to hold onto what we got because it's all we got.
Cover image: Alexandria Johnson and Michael Hatchett with their 1-year-old son, Nathanael, in their outdoor shelter as they wait out the uncertainty of any further earthquakes. (Ani Ucar/VICE News)