In California, the summer of 2019 was a particularly turbulent time, seismically speaking.
Dorie Cornell was living in Ridgecrest and, having just experienced a 6.4 earthquake, retreated to her log home about an hour away in Kennedy Meadows. There, she experienced an even larger quake, but with a very different result. This is her story.
Dorie: My husband and I are originally from New York, we moved to California in 1980 and then up to Ridgecrest in 1982. We had a small house built here about 30 years ago, so our kids grew up coming here, going cross country skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer and picking pine nuts every few years.
There actually are two Kennedy Meadows: We’re in the one just west of Death Valley, so in the distance we can see the Pacific Crest Trail and the Kern River. It’s a very small community. We originally came here because my husband was training to run the Western States 100. First, we camped here; then we bought property; then we had a small house built. In 2013, we saw a large amount of property up for sale, and we got a good deal on it because most of the trees had been recently burned in a fire. We now have 82 acres, and that’s where we decided to build our log home.
On July 4, 2019, we experienced the 6.4 earthquake. It was truly frightening. The next day we drove up to our log home 30 miles west in the Sierras where it sits at 6,400-foot elevation. The log home had no damage. Relieved, we settled in to unwind from the stress.
At 8:19 pm on July 5, the 7.1 quake hit. You can hear a quake before you feel it. It sounds like a freight train, because of all the granite in the Sierras.
The sound is deafening. Located not far from the epicenter, we ran out of our home and, trying to stabilize ourselves, we watched our log home rock and the windows flex.
When it was over, we went back inside to assess the damage. Things weren’t even crooked! I had little knickknacks on top of the kitchen cabinet that were still in place. I think there was one drawer that slid out. The home moved back and forth but there was no damage – it was amazing! The home is only about three years old — a Yellowstone Log Homes “Forrester” plan. It’s strong, but it was very flexible — even in an earthquake.