CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina Senator Jeff Jackson lives in Charlotte, but he’s been in California at Fort Irwin.
On Thursday, he was one of many to feel a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, California.
It is the strongest quake to hit the region in 20 years.
Senator Jackson says this was his first earthquake.
“It wasn’t something I was planning on experiencing today,” Sen. Jackson said.
“It felt like a train started to roll past. When I first moved to Charlotte, I lived right next to some train tracks and for the first few seconds, that’s how it felt. But then it kept going and it was pretty clear that it was an earthquake,” Sen. Jackson said. “People were stumbling, losing their footing a little bit. I mean, it was pretty serious and it lasted for about 30 seconds. So going through an earthquake for the first time, it was a pretty sizable one.”
The Associated Press says the strong earthquake rattled a large swath of California and parts of Nevada, making hanging lamps sway and photo frames on walls shake. There were reportedly no immediate reports of damage or injuries but a swarm of aftershocks were reported.
“It was long enough for all of us to look at each other and kind of have like a brief conversation in the middle of an earthquake. This is an earthquake, right? You know it’s still going on? Like most of us are from NC so we don’t have any experience with this. We don’t know if this is normal. I heard one guy say, “Welcome to California, this is just what happens”. Only to find out after the fact that even by California standards, it’s a pretty serious earthquake,” Sen. Jackson said.
Senator Jackson says there was no damage or injuries at the base.
“This is basically the ideal place for an earthquake to strike. We’ve got desert. We’ve got tents. And the only vehicles out here are tanks for the most part. So there’s not a lot to break. And what can be broken is basically indestructible so we’re OK out here,” Sen. Jackson said.
When asked about concerns, Senator Jackson says he is more worried about heavily-populated areas in the state.
“I mean, look - we’ll be ready in the middle of Fort Irwin to take whatever nature throws. I would be more concerned with more densely populated areas,” Sen. Jackson said.
From the military standpoint, Senator Jackson says California National Guardsmen would be most prepared to respond to help some neighboring communities if necessary.
“This is a small installation that really exists to train soldiers that are getting ready to deploy. So most of the soldiers that are actually at this installation are from other parts of the country and they’re getting ready to head out other places, so we wouldn’t really be designed for that,” Sen. Jackson said.
Many North Carolina soldiers are in California for Operation Hickory Sting, at the National Training Center in the Mojave Desert.
Senator Jackson says he was able to get in touch with his family and let them know that he was OK.
“My wife sent me a text. She said did that earthquake hit you guys? And I said I was surprised that she had heard about it, because I had just sort of thought oh this is California, they have earthquakes sometimes. It made national news and she’s the one who told me that,” Sen. Jackson said.
Veteran seismologist Lucy Jones says the previous large earthquake in California was a 7.1 that struck in the area on October 16, 1999.