The physical damage from a large earthquake destroys structures, causes fissures in the earth, and often results in physical damage to human beings. Beyond what we see with the naked eye is the devastation which must be faced by the area’s residents.

The majority of the people living in Napa are working class, they are the waiters, bartenders, and busboys who work in the many restaurants; they are hotel maids, cooks and dishwashers. When the 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck, it resulted in the temporary unemployment of hundreds of people. The area suffered more than $300 million in damages and forced many businesses to close their doors to make repairs.

Napa has always been an area dominated by working class Americans. It was once part of the steel industry with Kaiser Factories up and down the coastline. The United States Navy had a large shipyard in neighboring Vallejo.

In 1976 an event in France changed the area’s future forever. A blind taste test was held in Paris. When some of the blindfolded judges selected California wines over their French competitors, the future of the California’s wine industry was forever changed. By 1986, Napa and the surrounding area had 200 vineyards; today there are over 400, creating a large and successful tourist industry.

It took about six months for Napa to return to a bustling tourist attraction after the 2014 tremor. An earthquake relief fund was established by Napa Valley Vintners, and the Small Business Administration approved $34.5 million in disaster loans.

The area has approximately 79,000 residents. The earthquake displaced about 200 people. Although temporary shelters were constructed, most chose to stay with friends or in RV’s and even tents. The community bonded together to rebuild the area’s businesses as quickly as possible.

By James Turnage


Al Jazeera America

SF Gate

Photo Courtesy of Trey Ratcliff

Flickr License