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Two years after the earthquake, the Community Foundation is planning for Napa's next disaster

Two years after the earthquake, the Community Foundation is planning for Napa's next disaster

Napa Earthquake (copy)

Merchandise is tossed inside of Shackford's Kitchen Store following a 6.0 earthquake which struck Napa on Aug. 24, 2014. 

On the second anniversary of the South Napa earthquake, the Napa Valley Community Foundation released a report detailing what became of nearly $11 million in recovery donations and ongoing efforts to prepare for the next disaster.

The Foundation reports making cash payments totaling $5.4 million to 1,388 quake victims, $1.1 million to support 23 local nonprofit agencies that were on the front lines following the quake and nearly $800,000 for community preparedness, including seismic reinforcement of mobile homes.

Altogether, $8.3 million has been committed from the Foundation’s $10.9 million quake fund, started when Napa Valley Vintners contributed $10 million, said Terence Mulligan, Foundation president.

As quake relief efforts wrap up, the Foundation intends to set aside $2 million for the next declared natural disaster, man-made disaster or public health emergency in Napa County, Mulligan said.

Napa County has a history of floods, quakes and fires, Mulligan said, adding that given the recent experiences in Lake County, the fire threat looms particularly large.

The Foundation has been working with more than a dozen local nonprofits on creating their own internal disaster plans, then forming a coalition with public sector, faith community and business leaders to plan for the next disaster, he said.

Susanne Constanzo, director of operations at Cope Family Center, said the Foundation has been a catalyst in getting Cope to sharpen disaster training, making it part of our “new mindset.”

“We have to get our own house in order before we can come to the table as a player in the community,” Constanzo said.

Mulligan said the process of creating a new partnership of public and private organizations to respond to disasters was just beginning, but should result in faster emergency services when the next major event strikes.

Because of Internal Revenue Service rules regarding its tax-exempt status, the Foundation is not able to use the remaining $2 million for direct aid to people who are still struggling to put their lives back together, Mulligan said.

“Our goal has always been to help as many qualified residents as possible, knowing that charitable dollars alone could never make everyone whole. We know that some people haven’t been able to get all the support they may need, and truly regret we can’t do more at this time.”

Although 50 Napa structures remain red-tagged and are unsafe for occupancy, the federal rules don’t allow disaster aid to be spent two years later on such a small pool of people, Mulligan said.

Mulligan noted that these remaining structures typically carry a repair cost of $100,000 or more, which is considerably more than the $20,000 maximum grant awards made available to help qualified residents repair their homes in prior phases of the Disaster Relief Fund.

For more information about the Foundation, visit

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City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.

Related to this story

The performance of the Napa Valley Community Foundation in the aftermath of the 2014 earthquake has raised its profile in the non-profit world and given it a well-deserved seat at the table with government and other philanthropic organizations. It has positioned the foundation to expand its work and get the recognition it deserves.

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