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Earthquake damage in the city of Napa

Alexandria Square on Second Street was one of the most dramatic examples of the destructive force of the Aug. 24 earthquake. Napa is surrounded by two other faults of significance, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. 

The physical effects of the Napa earthquake can be captured in the mass of wreckage it produced – and the cash needed to repair damage to homes and offices, according to city officials.

Initial estimates of damage the Aug. 24 quake inflicted on privately owned homes and commercial properties total $300 million, including $57.9 million to public infrastructure, City Manager Mike Parness told the City Council at its Tuesday meeting.

Piles of household and office possessions smashed by the magnitude-6.0 temblor were possibly even more widespread than they appeared at the disposal sites set up outside local schools in the first days after the quake. Residents cleared out at least 4,300 tons of debris, Parness reported, adding that destroyed electronics made up a substantial share of the refuse.

Post-earthquake city inspections of structural damage have produced 1,398 yellow tags requiring re-inspection of buildings, as well as 156 red tags for buildings deemed unsafe to enter without repairs, Planning Manager Ken MacNab told councilmembers. Another 883 structures have received green tags clearing them for occupation.

All properties within the city have received at least visual, exterior inspections, according to MacNab, who said the city has assigned 10 two-person teams to inspect eight properties each per day.

Six units at the Napa Valley Mobile Home Park, off Orchard Avenue in the city’s north, were destroyed by a fire believed to be triggered by a natural gas line ruptured in the quake. Two other residential fires also broke out in other parts of Napa on the morning of Aug. 24, but neither home was lost, according to Parness.

City officials credited Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for a quick response to the widespread power failures, with nearly all the estimated 70,000 blacked-out customers restored within 48 hours and the last outages cleared out by Aug. 29. PG&E also responded to about 150 reports of possible gas leaks in the week following the quake, the city said.

The earthquake caused at least 144 water main breaks throughout the city, with ruptures concentrated in the Browns Valley and Westwood neighborhoods, according to Public Works Director Jacques LaRochelle. “As many leaks were fixed in five days as we usually get in a whole year,” he said of repair crews’ round-the-clock efforts.

Water pressure for some 1,800 Browns Valley customers is expected to remain lower than normal while the city decides the future of a water tank that sustained serious roof damage in the quake. Repair or replacement of the million-gallon tank could take six months or more, LaRochelle reported.

Two bridges in Napa shut down after the quake: the Tallgrass Bridge serving a Browns Valley housing subdivision and the pedestrian bridge linking Coombs and Clinton streets in downtown. The Tallgrass span reopened five days after the temblor, but the footbridge remains off limits due to a sheared-off anchor bolt, according to LaRochelle, who reported all other city bridges have been inspected and deemed safe.

Napa identified 294 sites in its street and sidewalk network needing post-quake repairs, LaRochelle said, adding the city’s campaign to repave 10 miles of streets per year gave Napa the in-house capability to speed up emergency road work.

With last week’s approval of a federal disaster declaration for Napa County, the city expects reimbursement for 75 percent or more of its earthquake recovery costs.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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