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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8957
JPY
USD
120.93
GBP
USD
0.6393
CAD
USD
1.2199
INR
USD
63.470

Rates may not be current.