The Napa Earthquake Strikes

darkI think I slept through the first 5 seconds of the earthquake. But that’s all.

Upon waking I was confronted by the duel familiarities of the most unnatural sound of cacophonous rumbling and crashing and the feeling of the floor moving beneath my feet. Even in the pitch dark of my bedroom I knew what was happening.

I also knew immediately that my wife and child were not next to me. I heard the screams of my wife coming from down the hall. I don’t need the full complement of fingers on one hand to count the things I’ve encountered that were more frightening than that.

Within five seconds of waking I was out of out of the bedroom. I had the feeling that our dog Louie was close behind me because even with the shaking and horrific sound of the house shaking and its contents crashing I felt her leap from the bed.

The house continued to move and shake in waves as I made my way down the dark hall toward the middle bedroom where Kathy’s screams directed me. And this is when I remember thinking, “will it get worse?” And I remember noticing that it did….it began to shake even more violently. And that’s when I realized if it continued to get even worse I may not know how to make it better for Kathy and my son who was with her.

When I finally made it to the middle bedroom where Kathy had taken three-month old Henry for his mid-night feeding, the shaking and terrible sound came to an end.

They were ok. I was shaking.

For those of you who have never been in  a powerful earthquake, the sensations are difficult to describe. What I can tell you is that you experience a force of tremendous power that is completely invisible and comes out of no where with no warning impact your very equilibrium. The worst part is that you don’t know how terrible a force it will become nor how much destruction it will yield. I’ve been in a number of earthquakes. I know a 4.0 earthquake well and don’t fear it. I know what to do. I know that a 5.0 earthquake can be damaging, but I also know my home will survive it. This was nothing like a 5.0 I had no frame of reference for this.

Upon this one finishing, I fully expected to see massive structural damage. As I stood in the dark in the middle bedroom making sure my family was unhurt, I wondered what danger we would confront as I took them downstairs. I fully expected devastation.

Thank Bacchus that the destruction was merely a collection of stuff—furniture, pictures, potted plants, shelves emptied, and of course wine….including a bottle of 2005 Dry Creek Rose that should have been drunk eight and a half years ago.

It’s 10:00pm on the night following the quake and both Kathy and I know that the likelihood of another quake like this coming is miniscule. But we find it hard to think about closing our eyes again tonight and not knowing what’s to come.

We were lucky…Really lucky. Everything could have been much worse.

Amongst those in the wine industry there are many wh0 suffered severe damage. Lewis Perdue of Wine Industry Insight has created a NAPA VALLEY WINE INDUSTRY QUAKE HELP FORUM where if you need help you can post your request and if you can do anything to help, you can offer your services. If you can, offer your help.


Posted In: Personal


11 Responses

  1. Meredith Mayo - August 25, 2014

    Hi Tom!
    Glad you are all ok… That’s what’s most important!

  2. Judith Perry - August 25, 2014

    I am so very glad that the 3 of you and the dog are ok. I am heartsick about the loss for those winery companies that suffered damage.

  3. Wineshout | Earthquake Wreaks Havoc with Napa Wineries - August 26, 2014

    […] incident very well, so there’s not much to add about the events here. Tom Wark explains in chilling, first-hand detail about his experience. For those who need help or want to help, Lewis Perdue has created a wine industry forum for the […]

  4. Rick Gayle - August 26, 2014


    I am quite glad that you, Kathy and your child are all safe now. I cannot begin to imagine how incrediblily nerve wracking those moments were for all.

    Best wishes,
    Rick (Wellington, FL)

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