Napa Earthquakes Remind Us of the Importance of Earthquake Resistance Buildings

The August 24th, 2014 cluster of back-to-back earthquakes on the South Napa fault is another reminder of how important it is that we continue to focus on creating earthquake resistant buildings.

The earthquake was the largest in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Significant damage and several fires were reported in the southern Napa Valley area, and there was also damage in the nearby city of Vallejo, in Solano County. The quake killed one person, injured about 200, and interrupted power to more than 69,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers. On September 11, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama declared the earthquake a major federal disaster. Early estimates by California officials indicated that the earthquake caused over $400 million in damage, of which $87 million may be eligible for federal reimbursement.

The main earthquake was magnitude 6.0, followed by at least twelve aftershocks thereafter, including one magnitude 3.9.

So what's unusual about this latest cluster of earthquakes?  Really, what's most surprising is that it hasn't happened sooner.  Since 1989, the bay area has been unusually lucky to have such a sparsity of large earthquakes.  Of course, that only means that the pressure in our fault lines is continuing to build, and it is inevitable that we'll be seeing more large quakes along other bay area faultlines before long.

The bottom line?  Many Napa residents and business owners are now kicking themselves for not ensuring that their property was properly protected from seismic events.  Even some buildings which had supposedly been retrofitted for earthquake safety did not fare well during the quakes.  It is important that, when it comes to seismic safety, you ensure that you are having your property inspected by a competent and experienced professional.  Here in the bay area, seismic activity is bound to occur, at one time or another.  Be sure that you and your property are ready for it!