Napa Earthquake: Small Businesses Lacking Insurance Hit Hard
Napa Valley small business owners who lack earthquake insurance are weighing in on Sunday's disaster that could cost them major financial hardships in the future.
The 6.0-magnitude earthquake that targeted a six-mile stretch of Northern California early Sunday morning is reportedly the worst quake to occur in more than two decades, the last one being the Loma Prieta in 1989.
Although there is no official report citing the precise damage, a seismologist predicted the tab to be around $100 million.
Many wine industry business owners, such as Bill Hill from Henry Hill & Company, reportedly do not have the proper insurance coverage they need, which only contributes to the aftermath of the disaster.
"Earthquake insurance is expensive, hard to get, and it doesn't cover much of what I need as a small business owner," Hill indicated.
Napa County hosts around 430 wineries that contribute an estimated $13 billion to California's economy. Several small business owners in Northern California expressed concerns regarding how this tragedy will affect them as they move forward.
While Napa only produces about four percent of the state's total wine crop, its wines are highly prestigious. The visual of thousands of smashed bottles and barrels is reaping havoc on many, some of whom lost as much as 50 percent of their wine stock.
"It's devastating. I've never seen anything like this," Tim Montgomery, a B.R. Cohn winemaker, said. "It's not just good wine we lost. It's our best."
Another winery, Napa Antiques and Wine Artifacts, empathized with its industry neighbors and reportedly suffered greatly too. Its owner, Chris Griffith, said he was trapped inside his store after the earthquake hit but was able to eventually safely evacuate the premises.
"There's no question the loss to the wine industry around Napa is going to be significant, and we won't be able to tally the total for weeks, if not months," Griffith stated.
The president of Silver Oaks reportedly lost three barrels of wine that ended up costing him about $100,000 worth of vintage wine. The Napa Valley produces $50 billion in economic activity annually, and about a quarter of that is dispersed throughout the U.S.
A state of emergency was declared by Governor Jerry Brown around 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning and rendered the state's emergency services office 'on full activation.' The statement, however, fails to hone in on rich wine companies.
"My office of Emergency Services has been on full activation since early this morning and is working closely with the state and local emergency managers, first responders and transportation officials to respond to impacts to residents and critical infrastructure," the statement reads.
Mercury News reported that Brown signed a state law last year that ordered an early-warning detection system be put intact. The project, which commands around $80 million to be deemed reliable, has only received around $10 million of funding since then.
The USGS's budget is only a tiny fraction of what it was 30 years ago, despite the frequency with which earthquakes occur.