ktvu.com | August 24, 2015 –
NAPA, Calif. – The city of Napa paused on Monday to remember the catastrophic magnitude 6.0 earthquake one year ago and reflect on the aftermath of the disaster.
A public event held downtown at Veteran’s Memorial Park drew a few hundred people, celebrating Napa’s resilience with speakers, booths, and youth performances.
“We didn’t think we were going to be the poster child for earthquakes in the Bay Area,” Napa Mayor Jill Techel told KTVU. “But our message is be prepared.”
Those who attended the gathering enjoyed displays on geology and seismology and learned about emergency life-saving and earthquake preparedness.
“I went and visited my daughter who lives in Oakland, and she had a bookcase right in front of her front door with books on it. And I said ‘Move that now!'” noted Mayor Techel.
Signs of construction and scaffolding are visible downtown, but many businesses shuttered a year ago are reopened and thriving.
The numbers were daunting: $360 million in damage with 1,500 homes damaged.
But many regard it as a test Napa passed.
The remembrance was billed as “Napa 6.0,” the number signifying the strength of the quake that knocked people out of bed at three in the morning.
“A year later, I still wake up and think, ‘What happened there?'” observed resident Lynn LeChevalier as she browsed the booths.
“My son was screaming in the other room, and I’m yelling, ‘It’s an earthquake! It’s an earthquake! Just stay in bed!'” she recalled.
“I saw neighbors helping neighbors,” Congressman Mike Thompson said as he addressed the crowd.
He praised the community for pitching in during crisis, citizens and first responders alike.
“This is about Napa strong, and I tell you Napa is strong,” Thompson declared to audience applause.
Rep. Thompson described the earthquake as a test that Napa passed by persevering on federal recovery aid and rebuilding.
“It still goes on. It’s not over,” mused business owner Sandina Bailo outside her downtown salon. Her business suffered heavy damage when sprinkler pipes burst and flooded the building.
Bailo coped by bringing in a movie trailer to do hair and managed to reopen in a month.
“I wouldn’t let people wonder if I was coming back, did they need to make their hair appointment elsewhere,” Bailo noted.
Her Sala Salon survived because she took on heavy debt and pushed forward.
“I let people know what was going on, what we were doing and not saying ‘Woe is me!'” said Bailo.
That positive spirit also propels members of a historic downtown church who haven’t been able to worship inside for the past year.
The First Presbyterian Church of Napa sustained more than $1 million in damage. A loan has been secured to start repairs and fund-raising it getting started to pay off the loan.
“We miss our sanctuary so much,” parishioner Eve Howard told KTVU. “And we hope to be back in the church in six to eight months. Certainly by the two-year anniversary.”
One booth, from Napa County Mental Health Services, offered a map where people could mark where they were when the quake hit and their feelings then.
Mom Lynn LeChavalier stopped to write just one word: “Yikes!”
“Yikes” for what she calls the scariest moment of her life.