News / Economy

California Wine Country Quake Losses Seen in the Billions

Winemaker Tom Montgomery stands in wine and reacts to seeing damage following an earthquake at the B.R. Cohn Winery barrel storage facility, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, California.
Winemaker Tom Montgomery stands in wine and reacts to seeing damage following an earthquake at the B.R. Cohn Winery barrel storage facility, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, California.
Reuters

The strong earthquake that jolted residents of California's historic Napa Valley wine country out of their beds in the wee hours on Sunday caused insured property losses likely to run in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but the region's economic losses will be several times that amount, experts said on Monday.

The magnitude 6.0 quake, the biggest to hit California's Bay Area in 25 years, struck before dawn on Sunday near Napa, injuring more than 200 people and damaging dozens of buildings in the picturesque community northeast of San Francisco.

At least 49 buildings in Napa, a town of 77,000 residents, were “red-tagged” as unsafe to enter, including the Napa Senior Center and the local courthouse, and that figure was expected to rise as additional structures were inspected, officials said.

The quake struck just as the grape-harvesting season is getting under way in Napa County, a significant wine-producing area that generates thousands of jobs in the region.

  • Andrew Brooks, associate winemaker of Bouchaine Vineyards, surveys fallen wine barrels after a 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • Grace Hardy cleans up wine bottles at nakedwines.com in Napa, California, following an earthquake, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • Pedestrians stop to examine a crumbling facade at the Vintner's Collective tasting room in Napa, California, following an earthquake, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • Cracked asphalt along Highway 12, Napa, California, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • A vehicle is trapped beneath a collapsed parking structure in Napa, California, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • A fallen statue of Bacchus, a Roman god of wine,inside the Ceja Vineyards tasting room after an earthquake in Napa, California, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • Nina Quidit cleans up the Dollar Plus and Party Supplies Store in American Canyon, California, after an earthquake, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • A man photographs damage to a post office in Napa, Calif., following an earthquake, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • A reporter surveys the scene of a building collapse following a reported 6.1 earthquake in Napa, California, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • People look at a damaged building with a top corner exposed following an earthquake in Napa, California, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • Jean Meehan looks over the damage to her JHM Stamp and Collectibles store following an earthquake in Napa, California, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • People walk past a tumbled mannequin and broken storefront window on First Street following an earthquake in Napa, California, Aug. 24, 2014.
  • Bricks are in the street after a building was damaged during an earthquake in Napa, California, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014.


Wineries closest to Napa reported the most serious losses, but the full extent of damage had yet to be assessed, said Nancy Underwood of the Napa Valley Vintners Association.

In the town of Napa, a number of building facades crumbled in the historic district, and the numerous wine shops were strewn with broken bottles. Most of the buildings red-tagged were damaged despite having been retrofitted to better withstand quakes, officials told a news conference.

Disaster modeling firm CoreLogic estimated that total insured economic losses could range from $500 million to $1 billion, though the company acknowledged “a fair amount of uncertainty” around those numbers.

Roughly a quarter to a half of that projection could come from residential losses, CoreLogic said, noting that $1.8 billion in insured claims were paid to policyholders after the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake that struck San Francisco in 1989.

The Insurance Information Institute in New York likewise estimated that insured quake damage would probably measure in the hundreds of millions of dollars, though overall economic losses will likely run several times higher.

The difference is because only about 6 percent of homes in the Napa area are covered by earthquake insurance, said Robert Hartwig, president and economist at the institute.

Wine Country Knocked Sideways

In Napa's wine country, businesses were grappling with the effects of the quake.

“Everyone is working hard to get business back to normal as quickly as possible,” the Napa Valley Vintners Association said in a statement, adding that some wineries sustained damage to barrel storage areas, production equipment and wine inventories.

At the Saintsbury winery, about a mile from the epicenter, co-founder Richard Ward said the start of his harvest would be likely postponed “for a couple of days.”

No quake-related fatalities were reported, but the emergency room at Napa's Queen of the Valley Medical Center treated 208 patients hurt by the tremor, most for minor injuries, county emergency operations spokeswoman Nikki Lundeen said.

Local battalion Fire Chief John Callahan on Sunday said three people were listed as seriously injured, including a child who suffered multiple fractures after a fireplace fell on him.

“Civilian casualties were small. It could have been so much worse,” fire department representative Mike Randolph said.

Six fires erupted, apparently from severed gas lines, including one blaze that destroyed six mobile homes, he said.

Some 600 properties in town remained without water on Monday and several streets were closed due to debris. Area public schools were also closed.

Power was initially knocked out to some 70,000 homes and businesses, but was restored by midday on Monday, Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman Jeff Smith said. He said crews were going door to door checking that all gas installations were safe.

Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, putting state resources at the disposal of his Office of Emergency Services. The quake was felt throughout the Bay Area, with residents nearest the epicenter reporting severe shaking that lasted nearly a minute.

Earthquake Near Napa, California (CLICK TO ENLARGE)Earthquake Near Napa, California (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
x
Earthquake Near Napa, California (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Earthquake Near Napa, California (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

More than 90 percent of people living in Napa, Sonoma and Fairfield - all located less than 15 miles from the epicenter - were jolted awake by the tremor, according to the company Jawbone, which makes a popular health-tracking wristband.

The tremor was the largest earthquake to hit the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta quake in 1989, which killed 63 people and caused $6 billion in property damage.

You May Like

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8016
JPY
USD
117.76
GBP
USD
0.6340
CAD
USD
1.1268
INR
USD
61.850

Rates may not be current.