It was all hands on deck for the 2020 earthquake

It was all hands on deck for the 2020 earthquake

As soon as my house stopped shaking, my phone began to ring.

“Whoa! We just had an earthquake! Did you feel that?” staff photographer Laura Seitz exclaimed just after 7 a.m.

“Yup! We got rocked here, too,” I said. “Call you right back!”

Because of COVID-19, we had already shifted into working remotely, but due to the severity of the quake, I knew this day was going to be challenging.

I started making calls to our Deseret News photographers for an all-hands-on-deck response after a 5.7 magnitude struck Magna and was felt throughout the Wasatch Front on March 18.

Everyone knows that when it comes to big stories, we’re all in this together for as long as we need to be. So our night photographer Scott Winterton responded in his Herriman community that morning, knowing he would likely have a long day, while those on day shifts started extra early so we could quickly upload our photos on the web.

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Depending on the location of the photographers’ residence is how and where we prioritized the locations that they we responded to first. But information that was accurate was hard to come by. We simply didn’t know which areas had been seriously damaged.

Our news-gathering partners from KSL-TV were knocked off the air that morning for a short amount of time due to the quake, so getting information into the newsroom and then broadcast out to the public, including those of us working remotely, was not fast at first.

We broke out the portable police scanners, watched social media, made phone call after phone call, and worked our sources to gather as much information as we could.

Within minutes of Spenser Heaps, deputy director of photography for the Deseret News, arriving on scene of a damaged downtown building, we had photos into our system.

“Of course this thing caught me totally off guard, literally shaking me from my sleep. But preparedness is something you make part of your routine as a photojournalist,” Heaps recalled of that morning.

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“So thankfully, my batteries were charged and my camera bag was pretty much ready to go out the door. Once the shaking stopped, I threw on some clothes, threw the cameras and laptop in my truck and was ready to go out the door.”

By 7:29 a.m. we had a story up with the first photo. Within the hour we had a full photo report from Heaps from his downtown location along with photos from a damaged school in Herriman from Winterton.

After we learned about major damage in Magna at a mobile home community, photographer Jeff Allred was dispatched to that scene. Allred was able to quickly send photos into us for the breaking web story updates, giving our readers a complete and compelling look at the Magna victims’ homes that were badly damaged.

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With a concern that cellphone towers might be jammed, we switched communication between our photographers to our two-way radio system — a system we invested in a few years earlier for just such scenarios. This also likely allowed our photographers to use their cellular data to send photos into our system.

By late morning as things calmed down, Heaps and I were able to make our way into the building to continue coordinating coverage and work on editing the amazing images that were still coming in. Despite the initial plan to work remotely, we felt like we needed to be there.

Just like many residents, the aftershocks rattled our nerves throughout the day. But all of us working on the story, including editors, reporters and photographers, knew our readers were counting on us.

Here are some of the incredible images captured that day and in the days and weeks that followed by the Deseret News photojournalists.

A corner of Colosimo’s in Magna is missing after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit the area early Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Tawnie Atkinson looks at damage to her neighbors’ mobile homes after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Tawnie Atkinson looks at damage to her neighbors’ mobile homes after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Chip Simpson looks up the street from behind what was a nearly 6-foot tall block wall that was destroyed during a 5.7 magnitude quake on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Chip Simpson looks up the street from behind what was a nearly 6-foot tall block wall that was destroyed during a 5.7 magnitude quake on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Members of law enforcement survey damage to a mobile home at Western Estates after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Members of law enforcement survey damage to a mobile home at Western Estates after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Candy Whisler hugs her scared dog Athena and grandson Paris Whisler after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Candy Whisler hugs her scared dog Athena and grandson Paris Whisler after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A crack runs through the J.C. Penney Shared Services Center and Zions Bank building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 18, 202. The damage was caused by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that shook the Wasatch Front.

A crack runs through the J.C. Penney Shared Services Center and Zions Bank building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The damage was caused by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that shook the Wasatch Front.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Mike Frampton, of City Glass, measures a broken window at the Maverik Base Camp building on 185 S. State in Salt Lake City after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit early on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Mike Frampton, of City Glass, measures a broken window at the Maverik Base Camp building on 185 S. State in Salt Lake City after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit early on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Adam Hiscock, Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist, looks at a crack as he assesses earthquake effects at the Great Salt Lake Marina on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Adam Hiscock, Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist, looks at a crack as he assesses earthquake effects at the Great Salt Lake Marina on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist Adam Hiscock looks at a crack in the road to the Great Salt Lake Marina that was likely caused by Wednesday’s 5.7 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter near Magna on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist Adam Hiscock looks at a crack in the road to the Great Salt Lake Marina that was likely caused by Wednesday’s 5.7 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter near Magna on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

A crack runs through the J.C. Penney Shared Services Center and Zions Bank building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 18, 202. The damage was caused by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that shook the Wasatch Front.

A crack runs through the J.C. Penney Shared Services Center and Zions Bank building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The damage was caused by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that shook the Wasatch Front.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Shauna Rodriguez shows Will, no last name given, where the line of cars to get gas began at the Costco in West Valley City on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, following a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that was centered in Magna. Both remembered experiencing the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area.

Shauna Rodriguez shows Will, no last name given, where the line of cars to get gas began at the Costco in West Valley City on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, following a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that was centered in Magna. Both remembered experiencing the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area.
Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

Curtis Green moves debris that fell from Caffe Molise in Salt Lake City after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit early Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Curtis Green moves debris that fell from Caffe Molise in Salt Lake City after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit early Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Curtis Green, maintenance worker, assesses damage from the roof ofCaffe Molise and BTG Wine Bar in Salt Lake City after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit early Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Curtis Green, maintenance worker, assesses damage from the roof of Caffe Molise and BTG Wine Bar in Salt Lake City after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit early Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The Angel Moroni statue atop the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands with its trumpet missing after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

The Angel Moroni statue atop the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands with its trumpet missing after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna hit on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The Salt Lake CIty International Airport is empty after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna caused the airport to be evacuated and closed on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

The Salt Lake CIty International Airport is empty after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna caused the airport to be evacuated and closed on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Adam Hiscock, Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist, looks at a crack as he assesses earthquake effects at the Great Salt Lake Marina on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Adam Hiscock, Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist, looks at a crack as he assesses earthquake effects at the Great Salt Lake Marina on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist Adam Hiscock looks at a crack in the road to the Great Salt Lake Marina that was likely caused by Wednesday’s 5.7 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter near Magna on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Utah Geological Survey hazards geologist Adam Hiscock looks at a crack in the road to the Great Salt Lake Marina that was likely caused by Wednesday’s 5.7 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter near Magna on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Caution tape surrounds a damaged building on Magna’s Main Street on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, following a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that was centered near the city on March 18. The street is now open to traffic.

Caution tape surrounds a damaged building on Magna’s Main Street on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, following a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that was centered near the city on March 18. The street is now open to traffic.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

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