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West Valley City Journal

Utah remembers 5.7 earthquake

Mar 31, 2023 03:04PM ● By Travis Barton

A trailer park on the west side close to Magna received the brunt of the earthquake from three years ago. (File photo Travis Barton/City Journals)

It was three years ago on March 18 at 7:09 a.m. when Utah experienced a magnitude 5.7 earthquake with the epicenter located in Magna. The earthquake caused damage to buildings, roads, and infrastructure across the Salt Lake Valley, and was felt across the state and surrounding areas. 

On the third anniversary of the earthquake, the Division of Emergency Management reflected on the progress made in the aftermath.

"It is sometimes hard to remember just how scary it was to many Salt Lake area residents to feel the earth move under their feet on March 18 and in many of the 2,000+ aftershocks that folloed," said Jessica Chappell, vice chair of Utah Seismic Safety Commission in a press release. "Still this event’s damage and disruption must serve as a warning for the potential destruction that could occur in an event releasing up to 100 times the amount of energy unleashed in the M 5.7 earthquake. On the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, we look forward to building a coalition of actively engaged citizens and community leaders to help us create a more resilient Utah."

Immediately following the earthquake, emergency response and emergency management agencies responded to assess damage and provide assistance. There were no fatalities, but several injuries were reported. The earthquake also caused minor power outages and disrupted communications.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the state officials, FEMA and local communities worked together to assess the damage and begin repairs. West Lake Junior High sustained enough damage to force students to relocate to Westbrook Elementary in Taylorsville while the new school is built. Its groundbreaking was held two years to the day of the earthquake. 

Other plans were developed by DEM to rebuild and strengthen structures to better withstand future earthquakes.

"At the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, the Magna earthquake is still fresh in our minds. The operational response to it dominated our activities for about a year, and we are still working on scientific analyses of the seismic data," said Keith Koper, Director of University of Utah Seismograph Stations in the press release. "Especially with the recent earthquakes in Turkey, it's clear we dodged a bullet with the Magna earthquake only reaching a magnitude of 5.7."

One resource created on the day of the Magna Quake and is still functioning is the website. The division reminded residents the website is a “great resource for information about the Magna Quake specifically, earthquakes generally, and earthquake preparedness.”

In West Valley City, officials worked with FEMA for assistance grants and programs to help both the residents and city-owned facilities. 

The city also implemented a three-year training plan where every other month the city does exercises for situations such as a winter storm or a cyberattack.  

DEM reminded Utah residents to prepare for future earthquakes by having a plan and an emergency kit.