NAPA, Calif. - Three back-to-back aftershocks -- one reaching a magnitude-3.9 -- struck Northern California on Tuesday only miles from Napa, which was rocked by a magnitude-6.0 quake two days ago, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.
There were no immediate reports of injury or damage.
The USGS said the epicenter of the first temblor, a magnitude-3.9, was 7 miles south of Napa, near American Canyon, Calif. It was followed two minutes later by a magnitude-2.7 quake only a half mile away and 37 minutes later by a magnitude-2.8 quake at the same location.
Napa schools remained closed Tuesday as school officials worked to inspect the district's 30 sites to ensure they were safe for students.
Despite the on-going seismic activity, most merchants in the Napa Valley have again opened their doors. But even as businesses recover, homeowners are looking at stiff bills for repair work.
Napa businesses, which rely heavily on tourism, are trying to get back to their usual routine. At VisitNapaValley.com, Catherine Heywood and Lynn Cronin was busy updating the website as businesses called in to report they were open.
That kind of instant information helped Raymond Xu of Fremont, Calif. decide to continue with his vacation. With in-laws visiting from Shanghai, he'd planned a visit to Napa to show them California.
"I searched online. I didn't see anything that made me think we shouldn't come, so here we are." He and his family were touring downtown Napa before heading out to visit a couple of wineries.
Many tourists were not deterred by the quake. LaNita Brevard of Ontario, Calif. is terrified of earthquakes. But the newly retired accountant wasn't about to let the earthquake interfere with a long-planned wine country visit with her sister Collette Ford. "We debated it and decided, what the heck," said Brevard.
Napa businesses are making do with what they have. At the Bellissimo Cafe, owner Ali Ince was servicing sandwiches and a limited menu of salads on paper plates with paper towels originally meant for the restrooms. "We're doing what we can. Water is limited so we have to use paper."
"It's that can-do spirit that's going to pull the Napa region through," says Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd. "We've been through firestorms, major floods, and this is not our first earthquake," he said.
While businesses work to get themselves up and running, homeowners face a different challenge. While few houses and apartments were destroyed in the temblor, many suffered damage that will take tens of thousands of dollars to repair.
Patti Lieberstein lives in the Browns Valley neighborhood of Napa. "We have cracks all through our house and my dishes were all smashed on the floor." She estimates that the damage to her house alone was at least $70,000.
FEW BUY EARTHQUAKE INSURANCE
Staci Davidson of Guerrero Insurance Agency in Napa said very few people buy earthquake insurance because of the cost. Fewer than 2% of their clients had it, she said.
Earthquake insurance is paid through the California Earthquake Authority, a public entity, but managed through individual insurance companies.
Typically, earthquake insurance policies carry a 10% minimum deductible, so if a home is worth $300,000, the homeowner must pay for the first $30,000 in damage. Also such policies are costly -- over $1,000 a year.
The agents at Guerrero had got many calls from clients asking if their losses were covered. The answer for most of them has been, 'No.'
The one bright spot is that if a car is damaged in an earthquake, and if the customer has comprehensive auto insurance, the damage is covered.
Lieberstein said in the last big Napa quake in 2000, they relied on low-cost loans from FEMA to rebuild. "We're going to have to wait and see if FEMA comes in again this time," she said.
So far President Obama has not declared the Napa area a federal disaster zone, which is what would be required for FEMA to get involved.