Powerful Earthquake Rattles Northern California
TESS VIGELAND, HOST:
A magnitude 6.0 earthquake jolted Northern California's Napa Valley this morning. It was the strongest earthquake in that region in 25 years. And the city is trying to get a handle on the damage - broken water mains, leaking gas lines and more than a dozen buildings in Napa that have been red tagged meaning they are currently uninhabitable. But Napa city manager Mike Parness says the area is well on its way to recovery.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MIKE PARNESS: Most of the Valley is operating as normal. The damages in isolated locations, the issues are significant. But we're on it. It's getting better, and I think it's going to get - the conditions will be vastly improved over the next few days.
VIGELAND: NPR's Richard Gonzales is in Napa, and he joins us now. Richard what's the scene where you are?
RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Well, you know, just a short while ago, I was standing at the corner of Second Street and Main in Napa's historical downtown district. And I have to tell you, Tess, that the quake that hit last night had very little respect for history. The most obvious damage is sustained by older buildings with brick facades so that whole walls of brick are collapsed exposing the offices inside. And at ground-level, storefront windows buckled and shattered so that several downtown streets are just strewn with debris. There are some power outages, some streets still have signal lights and other blocks there's no power. And I drove through some residential neighborhoods where there is no power. And on several streets, the pavement ripped open. Where you see the most dramatic evidence of a force of this quake are back in the commercial district in the wine shops, with broken bottles and wine covering the floors as if, you know, someone had just come in with a baseball bat and wreaked havoc. Local residents say they have felt strong quakes before here, but this one was special, in part because it seemed to last so long and the authorities saying that it lasted between 10 to 20 seconds.
VIGELAND: Richard, what are authorities saying about the damage and the clean up?
GONZALES: Well, Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties. These are the heart of Northern California's wine producing region. And keep in mind the quakes struck at 3:20 a.m. local time so that emergency officials jumped into action immediately. And then not long after dawn, they already had a chance to assess the damages. Like everyone I talked to today, authorities are expressing their gratitude that there have not been more and more serious injuries. Most people who reported to local hospitals had cuts, bumps and bruises. Here's Walt Mickens, who's the president of Queen of the Valley Medical Center.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
WALT MICKENS: Very early we had a big wave of folks with those lacerations and the bumps and bruises. They were related to folks getting out of bed and walking on things that had broken at night. What we're seeing now is a lot of folks that are getting injured while they're doing cleanup.
VIGELAND: All right, well, we've touched on this already, this of course is an internationally known wine area - vineyards everywhere - famous wines. What kind of impact could this have on the region?
GONZALES: Well, the extent of the damage is yet to be seen. But this is the height of the tourist season. And the wine harvest is coming very soon. So it's a very busy time. I was sitting in a hotel lobby and a lot of tourists were coming in who hadn't yet known about the quake or some who had slept through it. And they're asking a lot of questions. But the most clerical issue right now will be the aftershocks. They will come without warning. Fifty aftershocks have been felt already and many, many more will be coming in the next few weeks. So, authorities are warning people about securing objects that they keep in their homes above their heads. Secure those objects.
VIGELAND: All right. That's NPR's Richard Gonzales reporting on the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that shook California's Napa Valley this morning. Richard, thank you.
GONZALES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.