Now that the damage from last week’s 6.0 earthquake has been mostly catalogued and the risk of a major aftershock has diminished a bit, the consensus seems to be that San Francisco and Oakland did OK, Napa lost a lot of wine, and luckily, nobody died. Only three weeks prior, a 6.1 hit Yunnan Province in China, causing 589 deaths and some major damage, so yeah, we are relatively fortunate.
But between the San Franciscans who lost a bit of sleep and those rivulets of cabernet dribbling into the parking lots is a blue-collar city that bore its share of damage without getting as much publicity: Vallejo.
Although the epicenter was near American Canyon, that Napa County city emerged almost unscathed. Eight miles southeast, Vallejo did not. Twice the capital of California, the city declared bankruptcy in 2008, and is nearly there again. While some ten buildings were red-tagged (i.e., marked for demolition) and another 34 yellow-tagged (they’ll require work before anyone can move back in), the city of Vallejo and Solano County aren’t actively seeking assistance, and even the American Red Cross prefers that any donations sent to them not be earmarked for the quake aftermath. But the Solano-Napa Habitat For Humanity is soliciting disaster relief for displaced families, many of them low-income. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat doesn’t think federal emergency funds will cover it all.
Of course, this is not to knock Napa itself, which lost several historic buildings as well as all that wine, altogether a $300 million loss, citywide. Winery B. R. Cohn lost up to half its inventory, and even for those who only had to hoist a thousand or so 500-pound barrels back up, it’s a major disruption just as the harvest is beginning. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for the people whose job it will be to fix everything, chiefly by providing meals and child care for viticulture workers toiling extra hours.
Meanwhile, another great thing you can do is visit, as Vallejo is easy to get to by ferry. Pay the fare by Clipper card, eat lunch, drink some beers, go thrifting, poke around the Mare Island shipyard, and chastise yourself for never having been before because it’s so charming. Vallejo is right next to Six Flags, which makes it a good pit-stop location – but if you take the ferry, you go under two bridges!
Photo by Justin Sullivan via Getty Images