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Magnitude 6 earthquake injures, displaces dozens

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Eileen Rivera came home to find items in her kitchen strewn about.


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AUGUST 24, 2014

Justin Bueno, 18, woke in the dead of night to 15 continuous seconds of shaking beneath his bed. He recognized the sensation as an earthquake — at a magnitude 6, it was the strongest the Napa native had ever felt.

“I was sitting in my bed and then I felt moisture leaking into my sheets, which was from my fish tank,” he said. “That was definitely not good.”

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the wake of the earthquake, which struck about nine miles south of Napa and 40 miles north of Berkeley 44 seconds after 3:20 a.m. Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was the largest earthquake in the Bay Area since the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

The power in Bueno’s home was out for a few minutes but was soon restored. At the peak of the outages, there were approximately 70,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers without power.

According to the Geological Survey, the probability of a strong aftershock in the next seven days is 36 percent. There is a 5 to 10 percent chance that an earthquake of equal or greater magnitude will hit in the next week. On Sunday afternoon, Bueno said he had already felt aftershocks, although they were subtle compared to the initial quake.

“It’s a little disturbing, but I think the worst has passed already,” Bueno said. “I don’t think it will get any worse than this.”

There were no reported injuries or building damage in the city of Berkeley, according to Berkeley Fire Department Chief Gil Dong. Oakland residents were also unscathed in the quake.

As of Monday morning, tabulated figures showed 208 patients were treated at local hospitals, 17 of whom were admitted. There were no fatalities associated with the earthquake. Napa city authorities reported that buildings in their downtown area suffered extensive damage, including a historic courthouse and library. About 33 buildings, including a senior center, in the city of Napa were red-tagged as uninhabitable. Authorities also reported buckled streets and sidewalks.

In north Napa, fires destroyed six mobile homes. Two other structure fires in residential areas were extinguished by local fire crews. Ten engines from Cal Fire, the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, assisted with the earthquake and aftershock calls.

The county’s emergency operations center was activated and worked to assess the situation. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services activated its operations center to dispatch state resources and provide assistance to Napa County.

Napa authorities said Sunday that PG&E crews were responding to at least 100 gas leaks or gas odor reports. There were approximately 90 water-main leaks as of Monday morning, although water remained safe to drink for Napa residents.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter for displaced individuals in a Napa community church, which housed 15 displaced people Sunday night. All schools in the Napa Valley Unified School District were set to be closed Monday and Tuesday for building inspections.

California Highway Patrol reported that all roads in its jurisdiction were open and accessible to the public, but the agency urged people to avoid entering Napa unless they had urgent business there. Amtrak stated in a press release that service around the Bay Area had been temporarily suspended.

The ShakeAlert demonstration warning system, run by the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, provided 10 seconds warning prior to the quake.

The reported magnitude of the earthquake has fluctuated between 6 and 6.1, according to the Geological Survey’s data. By about 10:30 a.m., the reported magnitude appeared finalized at 6.

Eileen Rivera, a Wellesley College sophomore and Napa resident, was in Malibu, California with her family when the earthquake struck. She drove back to Napa not knowing to what extent her home had been damaged. When she arrived, she found her family’s belongings in disarray.

“There’s a lot of things around my home that are very personal — family heirlooms that have been passed down, like porcelain, and crafts and pottery that I made as a child,” Rivera said. “I think that’s just emotional to see it in shards, broken on the ground.”

Rivera described Napa as a small community of residents who know each other well.

“We have that small-town feel,” she said. “So, I think people communicate more, and we’ll recover from this faster than if it had hit San Francisco.”

Check back for updates.

Corrections: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Justin Bueno's name. A previous version of this article also incorrectly identified Eileen Rivera as a Wellesley College junior. In fact, she is a sophomore.
Contact Kimberly Veklerov and G. Haley Massara at [email protected].

AUGUST 25, 2014

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