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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9211
JPY
USD
119.18
GBP
USD
0.6722
CAD
USD
1.2509
INR
USD
62.518

Rates may not be current.