Gov. declares state of emergency in Calif. county

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EUREKA, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Tuesday in the Northern California county struck by a weekend earthquake, saying damage from the magnitude-6.5 temblor was expected to top $28 million.

Saturday’s quake “disrupted utilities and caused damage to at least 175 structures,” Schwarzenegger said in a news release. The scale of the wreckage exceeds Humboldt County’s ability to respond alone, he said.

In Eureka, the largest city affected by the quake, the damage estimate reached $17.9 million, reflecting damage to 295 buildings. The estimate was reduced from $21.9 million Tuesday after officials had more time to assess the quake damage, city spokesman Gary Bird said.

“Going out to those sites to inspect each one individually, we’re getting a more accurate assessment, and fortunately the number is going down,” Bird said.

Three structures, including a 13-unit apartment complex and a single-family home that fell off its foundation, have been declared uninhabitable, he said.

The owners of the home were staying with friends while they looked for a place to rent. The Red Cross was helping shelter people from the damaged apartment building.

Officials were continuing to assess buildings, and Bird expected Eureka’s damage figure to go up even further, although not drastically.

Damage estimates for the rest of the county were not expected for several days.

“The city of Eureka is what really took the beating,” said Brenda Godsey, a spokeswoman for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, noting much of the county’s development and population is concentrated in the coastal city.

The temblor was centered offshore in the Pacific Ocean. It sent about 30 people to emergency rooms, but only one was seriously injured — an elderly person who fell and suffered a broken hip.

Dozens of aftershocks have been recorded, including a magnitude-3.2 temblor Monday about 42 miles southwest of Eureka.