Napa quake business survivors asked to help prepare nation for disasters

12/28/2014:A13:NAPA QUAKE, AUG. 24: On Brown Street in downtown Napa, tourists and media gather around one of many historic buildings damaged by a magnitude-6 temblor that struck along the West Napa Fault at 3:20 a.m. KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat PC:On Brown Street in downtown Napa, Sunday Aug. 24, 2014, tourists and media gather around one of many historic structures that were damaged by the Napa temblor that tipped the scales at 6,0. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2014

JEFF QUACKENBUSH,

Businesses could be better prepared for the next “big one,” with a tool being developed with the help of those who rode through the Napa earthquake two years ago this month.

According to the United States Geological Services, the Napa quake was the largest earthquake in more than 25 years to hit the San Francisco Bay Area. The magnitude 6.0 quake struck early in the morning on Aug. 24, 2014, on the West Napa Fault. A smaller magnitude 5.0 earthquake on the same fault had damaged the city of Napa in 2000.

The tourist area suffered damage to many historical masonry buildings and older residences, as well as broken water mains throughout the city.

Total damage in the southern Napa Valley and Vallejo areas in the range of $362 million to 1 billion, with one person killed and 200 injured.

Researchers involved in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s Resilience Observatory Project have been developing a survey intended to become a nationwide model for gauging business conditions after a natural disaster, according to Cynthia Kroll, chief economist for Association of Bay Area Governments, which guides public policy for the region. She is one of those researchers.

“For the Napa experience, it gives us anecdotal information and illustrations of how the quake affected businesses and how resilient they are,” Kroll said. In the longer term, it will provide information for businesses on how to prepare and what’s needed to help a business recover.

A goal of the pilot survey is to get feedback on the ease of taking it, Kroll said. The online survey (surveymonkey.com/r/napa-case-study) is estimated to take about 20 minutes to complete because of the details requested. Those include information about the structure where the business is located, type of damage it sustained and experiences for the enterprise, such as how long it was closed, employment before and after and time required to reopen. Financial details are requested but are optional, and responses are kept confidential.

The institute developed a list of 30 ideal candidate Napa businesses for the pilot survey. One-third were willing, but only a few have been completed so far. The goal is to get more businesses participating and have enough results in the next several weeks to start on a nationwide tool.

The Resilience Observatory Project is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, or NSF. The Napa pilot survey was developed by these volunteer researchers: Ibrahim Almufti, an associate structural engineer for ARUP; Kroll; Mike Mieler, postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University; Anne Wein, operations research analyst for U.S. Geological Survey; and Yu Xiao , associate professor in Texas A&M University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.