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Ridgecrest got most of the attention, but tiny Trona was hit even harder by last week's quakes

Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

In front of Trona High School, where residents lined up to get cases of water, oatmeal cookies and vegan Chinese food brought by good Samaritans from Perris, Ricardo Romo tended to his four pit bulls. They were in a cage in the back of his truck. He was on his way to Joshua Tree, accompanied by his dad and other family members.

"My house is wrecked," he said. "And I don't know if we're going to have a job on Monday."

"If there's another big one, Trona will be gone," said 76-year-old RoseAnn Austin, who has lived here since 1963. Her main house didn't see much damage. But a property across the street saw its front fence completely ruined; cinder blocks were spilled across the sidewalk and covered a large pile of wood that the Austins had left for chipmunks to live in.

"Our chipmunks don't know what to do," Austin said. "They don't know where to go. I hope they have enough food stored away."


Other residents have buckled down.


Tony Channell, originally from Victorville, has lived in Trona only since October but said he quickly found a community groove he had never previously experienced. After the second quake, he immediately got a crescent wrench and went around his neighborhood volunteering to shut off gas lines.

"I'm 40, but this is the first time I've found a real home," he said. "It looks ugly from the outside, but inside, it's a lot of love."

First Baptist Church served as a water station and had the men of its congregation go from home to home to check in on "widows and shut-ins," Cox said. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat Catholic Church, usually open only twice a month, planned to hear confessions.

At the Christian Fellowship of Trona, where the power was out, about 12 congregants stood in the sanctuary room to gather information they'd pass along to others around town. Tips came fast: The Red Cross was going to have a bigger presence from now on after a miscommunication the day before. Beware of price gouging in town. People from around the world want to donate money, so who can help set up a GoFundMe page?


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