Trona: Six months later, no repairs in sight

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While much has been repaired in Ridgecrest, a lot of damage still remains in Trona.

The town in San Bernardino County is about 25 miles northeast of Ridgecrest with a population of fewer than 2,000.

It’s located just two miles from the epicenter of the magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes that hit in July.

Many here say they feel forgotten.

“It’s very sad to see all the suffering and the hardships going on here,” said resident Debbie Wright.

A quick walking tour shows a town with damage everywhere. Even six months after the earthquakes, little has been rebuilt.

“The gas lines have been a problem, the water lines have been a problem. We just have problems everywhere,” said resident Regina Troglin. “We’re trapped in this never-ending cycle.”

Trona is made up of largely lifelong residents–a town where most people know each other.

There’s about one of everything: one high school, one Catholic church, and one restaurant.

“Now we have to see the high school torn down,” Wright said. “That’s gonna be pretty devastating for a lot of people. It has a lot of memories.”

Since the high school is not safe for occupancy, classes are now held at the elementary school.

“It’s all trashed and needs to be replaced,” Troglin said of the campus. “But with all the cracking, who knows what they’re going to come up with to replace it because we still have aftershocks.”

The town’s Catholic church also had to be moved into a building a fraction of the size.

“(We went from) having such a large space to do mass in, to having just a tiny space the size of your living room.”

Trona’s staple restaurant, museum, and water supply company also are all still closed.

“It’s just devastating to know we’re going to lose everything in the center of Trona basically. The town square is pretty much gone,” Wright said.

The rest of the town is mostly damaged homes and vacant lots.

“As of yet, I have yet to see a house get rebuilt that’s been torn out by the county,” Troglin said.

Since July, many families have fled, unable to afford home repairs out of pocket.

“Families are struggling to put food on the table because, how are you supposed to fix your house? We got nothing left,” Troglin said.

Like Ridgecrest, Trona also did not suffer $50 million in damage to qualify for federal aid.

“FEMA denied all of the claims. They said we didn’t have enough damage,” Troglin explained. “We lost our entire town. Just tell me how we didn’t have enough damage on that.”

Many in Trona blame San Bernardino County, as well.

“The county forgot hat we’ve gone through. We’re alone, and we asked for help,” Troglin said. “We own our homes. We work hard. Why should I have to move?”

Wright added, “we get a lot of bad things said about us over here because we’re so isolated, and it is an old town, and so they think that just a bunch of bums live over here, and we’re not worth anything. But, this town has a lot of good people.”

“These people are good people, and they deserve better,” Troglin said. “They really do.”

As the sun sets on the Searles Valley and people drive away, the residents of Trona hope they won’t be left in the dust.

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