News Column

Napa Quake Damages Could Top $1 Billion

August 25, 2014

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Damage from the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that hit north of San Francisco could come to a $1 billion, the U.S. Geological Survey said Monday.

The quake, which shook the area at about 3:20 a.m. Sunday, was centered in southern Napa County and was the most serious in the San Francisco area since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. While there appeared to be no fatalities, at least 208 people were injured and 33 buildings were red-tagged as uninhabitable.

Most of those who lost power Sunday had the lights back on by Monday morning. The Napa Valley Unified School District cancelled classes Monday, postponing the beginning of the new school year.

The condition of a teenager hurt by a toppling chimney was upgraded from critical to serious Sunday night, a spokeswoman for the University of California Davis Medical Center said. He was the most seriously injured person.

The U.S.G.S. said about 75,000 people live in the area most serious affected, mostly in Napa, and another 75,000 in areas where there was a chance of significant damage in towns like American Canyon and Yountville. The survey's preliminary estimate for economic losses was $1 billion.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.

Jack Larochelle, head of public works for the city of Napa, said about 600 households had no water Monday. Many, like Juan Lopez, 16, and his family took refuge at a shelter set up by the American Red Cross at the Crosswalk Community Church.

"It felt really good to sleep and to get a shower," the teenager told the San Jose Mercury-News, adding he wanted everyone to know "they'll really help you out."

A quake in the 6.0-6.9 range on the Richter scale is classified as strong and described as capable of doing significant damage to poorly designed buildings. But the 6.9 Loma Prieta quake did far more damage, killing 63 people, many of them crushed when a section of double-decker highway collapsed, and injuring thousands.

A spokeswoman for Queen of the Valley Medical Center said most of the injured there had cuts, bruises or broken bones. A baby boy born at the hospital not long before the quake was doing fine.



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