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Kristin Murphy, KSL

Magna recovering, assessing damage after 5.7 magnitude earthquake

By Ashley Imlay, KSL | Updated - Mar. 21, 2020 at 5:06 p.m. | Posted - Mar. 21, 2020 at 2:49 p.m.



MAGNA — Three days after it was shaken by Utah’s largest earthquake in nearly 28 years, Magna’s Main Street appeared quiet, even serene on an overcast Saturday.

But remnants of the 5.7 magnitude quake could be seen in the yellow police tape drawn across historical buildings with piles of loosened brick blocking entrances.

And residents were still experiencing the emotional — and literal — aftershocks.

Since Wednesday’s earthquake, Magna has experienced multiple smaller quakes, including one on Saturday that was 3.4 in magnitude.

“Everyone is feeling this, and it’s OK to feel scared, it’s OK to feel anxious,” Trish Hull, Magna’s mayor pro tem, said during a news conference with other city officials.

“So things are still kind of scary.”

While the earthquake displaced 150 residents, business owners and employees from their buildings, neighbors “stepped up to help each other” during the emergency, Hull said. The few residents who needed to leave their homes have still not been able to return, as the buildings are being evaluated. The Red Cross has been assisting those displaced.

While the earthquake could’ve been much worse — as Main Street took the brunt — the incident illuminated the need for better communication plans in the town, according to officials.

The Unified police officers and firefighters who responded to the emergency worked well to protect the town, officials said, praising the agencies.

But regular means of contact like texting didn’t work during the earthquake’s aftermath, Hull said, and coordination between city officials was “very difficult.”

“And so that’s something we need to seriously look at,” she explained, urging other communities in Utah to look at their own communication plans for earthquake responses.

As of Saturday, buildings were still being evaluated, and a cost estimate for damage was not yet available, said Greg Schulz, Magna town administrator.

Seventy-seven residents so far had submitted information about damage to their homes or businesses on the Greater Salt Lake Municipal Services District’s website, said Trent Sorensen, district chief building official. Sorensen urged everyone with concerns about damage from the quake to fill out the survey form on the site, msd.utah.gov.

A major issue right now, according to Sorensen, is that some masonry chimneys might have shifted. If a masonry chimney provides ventilation to someone’s home, it might have damage that’s not clearly visible — and carbon monoxide from the home might not exit properly.

He encouraged those concerned about their chimney to have it evaluated by a professional, and to make sure they have a working carbon monoxide detector.

Hull encouraged residents to “talk it out” with their children about the earthquake.

“And just let (children) know that you’re prepared ... and reassure them,” she added.

Residents should also work to earthquake-proof their houses, take unsecured pictures off walls and remove vases from shelving, Hull said.

Since Wednesday, the town has received many inquiries from the broader community about how donations can be made to those affected. Hull encouraged people to donate to the Red Cross’ Magna Earthquake Fund.

The response after the earthquake of neighbors helping each other represents “just a case of everybody pulling together,” Mayor Dan Peay said.

Ashley Imlay

KSL Weather Forecast