Economic Damages From Earthquake Will Have Long Recovery Arc

Early on Aug. 24, while much of California was still sleeping, an earthquake shook homes and businesses. The 6.0 earthquake was one of the largest to occur in Northern California in recent years. The earthquake was centered about 6 miles southwest of Napa and 9 miles southeast of Sonoma, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
What do we know so far about this earthquake?

  • There were more than 200 injuries that occurred as a result of the earthquake.
  • There were about 200 homes and structures deemed uninhabitable or only partially habitable.
  • The governor of California declared a state of emergency for the affected area late on Aug. 24.
  • USGS estimated that 15,000 people felt severe shaking and 106,000 people felt strong shaking.
  • Napa County officials have estimated that economic loss will be in the billions, based on preliminary assessments and USGS data.

But those simple facts do little to demonstrate the magnitude of the earthquake’s effects on the regional economy. So what do we know right now, just days after the earthquake about the true impact of this disaster?

  • Napa County officials believe that the current estimate of $1 billion in damages and economic losses from the earthquake will grow in the coming weeks and months.
  • Less than 10 percent of homes and small businesses in Napa County have earthquake insurance, and those that do will most likely face paying a very high deductible. Earthquake insurance deductibles run on average 10 to 15 percent of the value insured.
  • Napa Valley’s well-known wineries were significantly disrupted by the earthquake. The wineries are responsible for $13 billion of regional economic revenue. Many of them lost thousands of dollars in wine stores.
  • Many vineyards have already been impacted by severe drought in California, now in its fourth year.

Usually, after a disaster, the first inclination is to respond to humanitarian needs for food, water, and shelter. Those are necessary here, but in small numbers. The immediate economic need seen here is vast, and will take time to both completely assess and for recovery to reach an end point. It will also take the brightest minds in philanthropy and economic development working together to reach a solution.
Is your organization responding to the needs following the earthquake? We’d love to hear what you’re working on!

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