(Recasts with economic impact of quake; adds details on insured
and total loss estimates; adds details of grape harvest delays,
damage to wine industry)
By Christina Farr and Robin Respaut
NAPA, Calif. Aug 25 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.
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
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.
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.
(Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los
Angeles; Additional reporting by Deepa Seetharaman in San
Francisco and Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Leslie Adler)