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No funds yet for $4b China Lake quake damage

The Forde Files No. 202

Funds to repair and rebuild the July earthquake damage to the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake are stuck in Congress, which has not passed a 2020 -21 budget. The damage amounts to $3.9 to $4 billion dollars, J. David Janiec, executive director of the China Lake Alliance, said at the Nov. 14 East Kern Economic Alliance meeting.

The China Lake Navy facility represents 86 percent of the economy at Indian Wells Valley (Ridgecrest), he said, and the Navy base is operating at 80 percent capacity. Most of the buildings that were damaged were built in the 1940s and 50s.

"The Navy has submitted documents for repair and replace, but there's no budget yet," Janiec said. The funding has across the board bi-partisan support, he said, gingerly alluding to another event that is engaging Congress's attention. Funds are coming in drips in the form of continuing resolutions. The current spending authority ran out on Nov. 21, and the House of Representatives voted to keep the government funded until Dec. 20.

New construction at China Lake and three other bases as well as hurricane repairs elsewhere "are all held hostage" to the lack of a budget, he said.

"The documents are ready to go. We need Congress to pay the bills."

Janiec said that the Navy and Ridgecrest community are working on the funding issue with people at every governmental level, including California Governor Gavin Newsom and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

"Unless you're sitting at the table and banging on a plate, they forget about you," he said.

The Ridgecrest area experienced three major earthquake events of 6.4, 5.8 and 7.1 magnitudes on July 4 and 5, 2019. Smaller quakes continue to rumble through Ridgecrest, sometimes two or three a day. The U. S. Geological Survey reported shakers of 2.7 and 3.4 magnitude, five minutes apart.at nearby Searles Valley on Nov. 20.

The China Lake Alliance is a non-profit organization linking the civilian Ridgecrest community and the Navy at China Lake to promote communication on mutual concerns.