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Help pouring in to Trona, Calif., after quakes, but officials say recovery will take time

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Power was restored -- again -- a day after Friday's 7.1 quake, residents said. Water just came back on Wednesday morning.

"It's steamrolling to where we're starting to get a lot more resources we need to help rebuild," said resident Jonathan Schmid, 36, who works at the Searles Valley Mineral Plant.

Schmid has become an informal liaison between his neighbors and county officials. He wakes up daily at 6 a.m. to unload and distribute donations and puts his head to rest after midnight, he said.

"It's still hectic," he said. "We take care of our own."

At the town hall, residents expressed concern for Trona's elderly and disabled and their medical needs, Schmid said. And because the town lies on the border of Inyo and San Bernardino counties, he's worried not everyone is getting the same level of attention.

Tolbert said many residents are still focused on cleanup and getting their homes cleared by safety officials.

Many houses have been red-tagged -- declared unsafe to inhabit -- and residents have resorted to sleeping in their yards. Tolbert herself sleeps on mattresses on her driveway after her home was severely damaged. Those who can get into their homes find shelter under tables or away from walls. Some have left the town entirely.


Still, Tolbert said the experience has brought everyone closer.

"I now know things about my town I did not know," she said. "I am a more aware neighbor, honest to God."

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