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California Quake’s Damage Estimated at Up to $1 Billion

Cleanup and repairs continued Monday in California’s Napa Valley, where a magnitude-6.0 earthquake left behind a wide range of damage and the specter of possible significant aftershocks loomed.


While Sunday’s quake caused no deaths, one estimate has put the potential financial loss from the quake at between $500 million and $1 billion.


The estimate, from international catastrophic analysis firm Eqecat, noted that there is still a fair amount of uncertainty, but said, “Residential losses are approximately from one half to one quarter of this loss estimate. If the loss exceeds $1 billion, it will be from uncertainty in commercial losses.”


In a morning update on its website, the hard-hit city of Napa, just miles from the quake’s epicenter, said 208 people had been treated at Queen of the Valley Hospital for quake-related injuries, most of them minor. Seventeen people had been admitted, but no new patients had been treated since late Sunday, it said.


City crews were working to repair as many as 90 water-line breaks caused by the quake, the city said, and advised all residents to boil water before drinking it.


Pacific Gas & Electric PCG +0.61% company reported early Monday that fewer than 100 customers remained without electric power, after about 70,000 had lost power Sunday.


The earthquake, which hit at about 3:20 a.m. Sunday, was the most damaging in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1989, said David Oppenheimer, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. As of early Monday, the USGS predicted a 36% chance of aftershocks of a magnitude of 5.0 or greater during the next week.


Several city streets remained cordoned off Monday, and the city of Napa reported that 33 buildings had been “red-tagged” as uninhabitable due to damage from the quake. Public schools and the city’s senior center also remained closed.


A historic courthouse in Napa Valley was damaged in Sunday’s quake. Bloomberg News


The area’s famed wine industry continued to take stock of damage to the hundreds of wineries in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. The Napa Valley Vintners trade group said in a statement: “While there have been reports of damage at some Napa Valley wineries and production and storage facilities, particularly those in the Napa and south Napa areas, vintners are still assessing their individual situations.”


The wine industry is a big engine for the local economy, generating some $13 billion a year in Napa County and employing some 46,000 workers, according to the trade group. It estimates there are about 700 grape growers and 430 wineries in the county.

Source: WSJ