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Sunday Morning News

Moderate Quake Strikes California's Napa County

Aired September 3, 2000 - 9:24 a.m. ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story this morning has been an earthquake that rattled northern California this morning.

And we're going to go for the latest with KRON's Mark Jones, who is live in Napa now. Mark, good morning. And what's the latest? What do you have for us?

MARK JONES, KRON, SAN FRANCISCO: Well, Kyra, we're about an hour and a half north of San Francisco. The quake, at 1:36 this morning, was 5.2 on the Richter scale, not nearly as big as the Loma Prieta quake we had here in 1989, but sizable here.

There's some moderate structural damage to many of the buildings and houses in the city of Napa, which is located just south of the epicenter, which was near the town of Yountville (ph), California.

We have grocery stores with shelves in disarray, the same type situation with the auto parts stores. The hospital reports that they've had some heart attacks in town from the shock of being awakened in the middle of the night. We have senior citizens that had to be evacuated from a home because of a broken water main. They have been moved to another location but sat out in the cold for several hours waiting to be transported.

The ambulances here are running about 20 minutes behind. Power knocked out to about 10,000 homes earlier tonight. It's back now to 5,000 homes, we're told. The only serious injury is to a 4-year-old child. We don't know if it's a boy or a girl. But something fell on the child during the quake, and the child is in critical but stable condition at this hour.

And we're waiting to be briefed by city officials and county officials later this morning as dawn approaches and they finally can begin to assess the damage.

That's the story here in Napa, California.

PHILLIPS: Now, Mark, you're the first reporter we've made contact with, and this is the first time we've even seen video or pictures from the area. Can you tell us where you are, and possibly is there anything behind you or around you that you could show us to give us kind of an example of damage, property damage?

JONES: No, actually we're right in a location where we could get out live, but you ride down some of the streets and everything appears to be perfectly normal. There were stores downtown, they have the lights on, and not a single thing was knocked over inside the store, and a block away you'd find just the opposite. We've not seen any buildings that have collapsed or anything, like we saw in San Francisco in 1989.

But there is some moderate structural damage to many of the buildings in the town of Napa.

PHILLIPS: Mark, do you know anything with regard to the wineries? We know Napa's a very popular area for tourists. Do you have any updates on that?

JONES: No estimates of damage yet, although if you saw some of the video from the grocery store, you could see there are lots of wine bottles that were broken and being cleaned up already at 4:00 in the morning.

But we don't have any estimate of damage from the wineries yet.

PHILLIPS: All right, Mark Jones, live from Napa, thanks for that report with our CNN affiliate KRON out of San Francisco.

In northern California's Napa country, at least one person is reported seriously injured as a 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area early today. Twenty-five other injuries are reported by the Associated Press. And the quake was centered in the wine country of Napa County north of San Francisco.

The Napa police chief spoke with us this morning.


STEVE GEOGHEGAR, COMMANDER, NAPA POLICE (on phone): It appears no, it appears that even though the earthquake was centered north of the city, that the majority of the damage is in the city itself. So the tourist areas that are outside the area -- the city itself appear to be relatively unaffected.


PHILLIPS: People in San Francisco say they felt the shaking about 50 miles away.

For more on the earthquake in California, we are now joined on the phone by Don Blakeman, who is a geophysicist with the USGS, that's the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado.

Thanks for being with us on sort of a last minute, Don.

DON BLAKEMAN, GEOPHYSICIST, USGS (on phone): Sure, you're welcome.

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about the significance of a 5.2.

BLAKEMAN: Well, a 5.2 earthquake is what we consider a moderate earthquake. Typically it does not cause a lot of damage, and in this country, because of the better building construction, typically it does not cause a lot of injuries or deaths. But it's -- there's no way to be certain of those things until they actually happen.

PHILLIPS: And what are the possibilities for aftershocks?

BLAKEMAN: Well, I think we can expect some aftershocks. We cannot predict exactly when they might occur or exactly how large they will be, but these quakes typically have some aftershocks in their series.

PHILLIPS: How should folks take precaution?

BLAKEMAN: Well, just as though -- they should take precautions just as though they would for any possible earthquake in California, that is, to secure objects on shelves and so forth and be able to respond quickly, get under a table or a strong doorway in case they feel an earthquake so that they will not be injured by falling objects.

PHILLIPS: Now, let's talk about the process that you -- how you measure the quakes. You have sensors, I understand, all over the world. Kind of give us an idea of how you operate there at the National Earthquake Center.

BLAKEMAN: Yes, that's correct. We have access to the data from seismometer stations throughout the world. For a quake like this, we'll have perhaps 200 stations, most of which will be in the U.S., many of them in California, and also we have access to foreign stations. That data comes in typically by a satellite feed or by Internet.

We use the computer to automatically analyze, and then we use personnel such as myself to manually analyze the data and determine the earthquake's epicenter and also to get an estimate of the magnitude or the size of the earthquake.

PHILLIPS: Now, Don, this was a 5.2. Let's say it would have been a 6.0. That would have been quite a tremendous difference, correct?

BLAKEMAN: It'd be a very huge difference. This scale, the Richter magnitude scale, is logarithmic, which means when you go from magnitude 5 earthquake to a magnitude 6 earthquake, there's 10 times as much ground movement in the epicentral area.

PHILLIPS: All right, so pretty good news to report at this time. Don Blakeman, geophysicist with the National Earthquake Info Center, thanks for being with us at the last moment.

PHILLIPS: And for more on the earthquake in California, we are now joined by phone also, Dennis Sisto, who's the CEO of Queen of Valley Hospital. Mr. Sisto, can you tell us how your hospital or how your doctors, your staff, are responding to the patients coming in?

DENNIS SISTO, CEO, QUEEN OF THE VALLEY HOSPITAL (on phone): Well, we've had 40 patients present to the emergency room, most those injuries have been cuts and bruises. However, we've had two head trauma injuries that were quite serious. There was a 5-year-old male that was hit with an object on the head. That patient has been transferred to Children's Oakland Hospital. And we've admitted a head trauma patient of a 41-year-old male.

PHILLIPS: Now, you say head trauma. Was this from falling debris?

SISTO: You know, we know the 5-year-old male was from falling debris. We're unsure about the 41-year-old male at this time.

PHILLIPS: We had reports of a 4-year-old girl also receiving head trauma. Did she come to your hospital, or was that misinformation?

SISTO: That did not come through our hospital, to my knowledge.

PHILLIPS: OK, so about 40 patients at this time. Are these people coming in directly from Napa or other areas also?

SISTO: Mostly from Napa, from what I understand.

PHILLIPS: And are you expecting any more? Have you been receiving more 911 calls and expect more patients to be coming in?

SISTO: No, it's actually settled down. It was very busy between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m., but the waiting room only has a handful of people in it at this time. So it's settled down quite a bit.

PHILLIPS: Well, that's good news. Dennis Sisto, CEO of Queen of the Valley Hospital, thanks for being with us this morning.



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