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Earthquake warning system expands with the help of federal funding

FILE -- This 2014 photo from KRON via MGN shows earthquake damage in South Napa, Calif.

The earthquake warning system, known as ShakeAlert, will be receiving more than $22 million from the federal government.

This money is part of the spending bill signed by President Donald Trump last week.

ShakeAlert uses a network of sensors under the ground to detect earthquakes. These specialized sensors would be able to give people warning before shaking occurs.

"This early detection system, if people would use it ... it could save them," said geologist Gregg Wilkerson.

Despite the money, geologists say it's not enough.

"That's way less than what we wanted for full implementation of the system," said Wilkerson.

The U.S. Geological Survey says 1,675 ShakeAlert stations are needed to complete the system. The average cost of one system is $60,000.

The USGS estimates $38.3 million is needed to get ShakeAlert up and running, with an additional $16.1 million each year to operate.

There are 33 ShakeAlert stations in Kern County, and the USGS hopes to add four more.

Until then, Wilkerson said people should prepare.

"The early warning system will give you a few minutes, but you have lots of time today to go down to Costco to get an emergency kit, so you're ready when an earthquake strikes," said Wilkerson.

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