Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Napa County ends earthquake emergency status

It took almost two years, but Napa County is officially no longer under a local emergency proclamation linked to the Aug. 24, 2014, South Napa earthquake.
The county Board of Supervisors last week terminated the emergency proclamation initiated on the day of the earthquake. County Executive Officer Nancy Watt called attention to what might have otherwise been a routine item passed along with other routine items.
“It’s somewhat anticlimactic,” she acknowledged.
But up to 20 seconds of shaking during the earthquake yielded plenty of long-range, bureaucratic chores for the county. The immediate, chaotic signs of a major emergency — sirens, buckled roads, toppled bricks, collapsed buildings — were only the beginning.
A world of flashing red emergency vehicle lights yielded to a world of red tape. Napa County government’s slow-motion recovery included securing federal reimbursements to help pay for government building and rural road damage, tasks that required emergency status.
Now Napa County has reached a point in its dealings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency that it felt comfortable terminating its local emergency proclamation.
“We still have a lot of work to do to get back to pre-earthquake life,” Napa County Risk and Emergency Services Manager Kerry John Whitney said late last week. “But we’re in recovery now, not response.”
The county still has building repairs to make. Most notably, the oldest section of its historic courthouse remains closed and braced on the outside by giant metal beams.
FEMA has tentatively agreed to pay more than $500,000 toward the $635,000 earthquake insurance deductible on the building, Whitney said.
Napa County might be as long as two years away from holding a grand reopening for the damaged courthouse, Whitney said. It will reassemble a building shaken to its core by the quake while also paying attention to Victorian Italianate architecture and other historic details.
Current Time0:00
Duration Time0:00
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
“That’s an absolute priority,” Whitney said. “We have a historical expert on our team to make sure that happens.”
The need to maintain the building’s historic integrity is one reason it took so long for the county to work with FEMA on a repair strategy. Only in late November 2015 did the parties agree on how to shore up the courthouse enough to begin an in-depth damage assessment.
Ultimate repair costs for the 1878 courthouse are still unknown. Much will depend on to what degree the building is strengthened to withstand future earthquakes.
“That building was very, very severely damaged and it has to be done right,” Whitney said.
FEMA has also agreed to pay about $1.2 million toward the $1.4 million insurance deductible for the county Hall of Justice on Third Street. Whitney said the county should soon know the cost for repairs that remain to be done there.
Another factor allowing the county to end its earthquake emergency status involves the downtown jail. Because of earthquake damage to the jail, the county signed a contract with Solano County that allowed it to house as many as 125 inmates in the Solano County jail.
The county in early April stopped housing inmates in Solano for earthquake-related reasons. However, it still is housing inmates in Solano because of a remodeling project at the Napa County jail that has closed an inmate housing unit.
Napa County last August announced that total earthquake damage to its government buildings, roads and infrastructure was near $15 million. The county has long expected costs to top $20 million when all the bills are known and tallied. Much of the cost is to be reimbursed by insurance, and federal and state governments.
The city of Napa also declared a state of emergency that the City Council terminated on April 21, 2015. City officials said at the time that they had worked with the federal and state governments on an estimated $12 million in city earthquake-related damage costs.

You may also like:

No comments :

Post a Comment