A 6.0 earthquake is scary and upsetting no matter where it occurs, but when the trembling and shaking is centered just up the road in one of our favorite parts of California -- the historic towns and wineries of the South Napa Valley -- it is even more troubling.
Frankly, we were amazed that there weren't more serious injuries given the substantial magnitude of the quake. We attribute that to it occurring at 3:20 a.m. Sunday. After seeing the physical damage in downtown Napa, we have to believe that if the quake had occurred during the day, the injury toll, and perhaps deaths, would be much higher.
We don't mean that to diminish the seriousness of the lives who were touched by the quake through lost homes and seriously damaged businesses. We just believe that the event could easily have been much worse at a different hour.
The nature of the Napa Valley, thankfully, is to restore and rebuild -- evidenced by contractors everywhere you looked Monday morning to begin tackling what's likely to be hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. It is that same American spirit that has guided the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and on the East Coast after Superstorm Sandy, to name a few.
We know Napa will recover, but any time there's a major earthquake, whether just around the San Francisco Bay or on the other side of the world, those of us who live near fragile faults inevitably react: Uh-oh. Ours is coming.
Intellectually, we've known that for years. It's ironic that the longer we go without a major quake, the more likely it becomes, as pressure builds on faults -- but the more likely we are, at the same time, to become complacent. We forget the feel of one, the not knowing how long it will last -- the longer, the more damage -- and the aftermath. Looking at downtown Santa Cruz today, it's hard to imagine the devastation of Loma Prieta 25 years ago.
On Sunday morning, many in the East Bay slept through it all. But others did not. They were jostled from sound slumber by the rolling and shaking. Night owls probably experienced it the most, creaking in the walls, swaying in the room. Regardless of the experience, we must think of it as a not-so-gentle reminder to get prepared for an even bigger one that is sure to be coming.
Meanwhile, when the dust settles, we suggest you plan a trip to Napa. It's tourist country, after all. They need us.
In earthquake country, we all need one another.