Napa marks one-year anniversary of earthquake with celebration

NAPA (BCN) — The city of Napa is marking the first anniversary of the 6.0-magnitude South Napa earthquake Monday afternoon with music, speakers and information about government services at Veterans Memorial Park.

The “Napa Strong 6.0/365” event at Third and Main streets starts at 3:20 p.m. It is billed as a celebration, preparation and commemoration that focuses on the progress in recovery and preparation for future emergencies.

The earthquake hit at 3:20 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2014, and until first light the damage it caused was unknown. It was felt widely throughout the Bay Area, and police, fire and radio stations immediately began receiving phone calls.

Within hours, businesses owners in Napa were assessing the damage to their properties. Streets were blocked off, and members of the media mingled with tourists and residents downtown.

No deaths were reported until 65-year-old Laurie Anne Thompson, 65, died on Sept. 5. She was struck by a television in her Mayfair Drive home in Napa and suffered a head injury, but she did not immediately go to a hospital until her family noticed her cognitive functions were impaired.

In a strange but understandably human way, the earthquake on the West Napa Fault had spontaneously become a tourist attraction in Napa that Sunday and for weeks later. Some restaurants and businesses that were mostly or completely unscathed were doing a brisk business.

City Manager Mike Parness remembers a community effort began immediately.

“Many stores were open in days or weeks. There was significant damage but progress was made that I would not have guessed a year ago,” he said.

Following the quake, city officials said there were 129 buildings red-tagged to prohibit people from going inside because of extensive damage.

More than 1,000 other structures with moderate damage were on the yellow-tagged list, allowing people to go inside only for limited purposes.

A year after the earthquake, there are still 62 red-tagged properties in the city of Napa, 54 of them leaning, collapsed or off-foundation residences, and 900 to 1,000 yellow-tagged properties needing minor repairs, the city’s outreach coordinator Barry Martin said.

“The number is an estimate because the Building Division is now in the process of reviewing status on all yellow tags,” Martin said.

“Most of these are residential properties with minor chimney, foundation or interior repairs needed, but these structures are livable and property owners are not compelled to make these repairs. The yellow tag can remain on property indefinitely,” Martin said.

Napa has issued 1,243 building permits for quake-related repair or demolition works on residences, Martin said.

The estimated structural damage to public and private properties from the quake is $300 million, with $50 million of the damage to city of Napa infrastructure or property, Martin said.

The most damaged buildings in the city of Napa were the Napa County Administration Building on Third Street, the Carithers Building on First Street that houses the District Attorney and Public Defenders offices, the Historic Napa County Courthouse on Brown Street and Napa County Hall of Justice on Third Street, Napa County spokeswoman Kristi Jourdan said.

Jourdan said final damage numbers in the county won’t be available for quite some time.

“The county has submitted 30 requests for reimbursement of about $6.5 million for work on roads, bridges and culverts damaged by the earthquake,” Jourdan said.

Napa Valley’s wine industry conservatively reported suffering $80.3 million in damage. The Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund announced a $10 million gift from Napa Valley vintners, and 460 individual, corporate and foundation donors provided more than $850,000 in grants through March 2015 to repair structural damage to homes and for physical and economic losses to small businesses.

Some Napa Valley Mobile Home Park residents who lost their homes to fires in the earthquake have created a neighborhood watch program where neighbors check on other neighbors, Jourdan said.

“Napa County residents are more focused on emergency preparedness,” she said.

“Prior to the earthquake, the county had to cancel some classes for a program called Community Emergency Response Teams. Now we’ve had to add classes because of interest,” Jourdan said.

The program trains residents in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search-and-rescue, team organization, personal preparedness and disaster medical operations.

“We have had an amazing recovery, and seeing the video from a year ago reminds me of how far we have come,” Napa Mayor Jill Techel said.

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