Sacramento, California - When earthquakes occur, some of the damage happens in areas of our homes and businesses that may be nearly impossible to spot without close attention. Residents and business owners in Napa and Solano Counties continue to discover damage from the South Napa Earthquake.

The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urge people in those counties to take time to check for any signs of potential damage and register for assistance as soon as possible.

"Earthquake damage sometimes goes unnoticed," said Federal Coordinating Officer Steve DeBlasio. "Earthquakes are different from other disasters, because damages can mimic regular wear and tear or be so subtle that they are hard to find at first. A new crack or stuck door, for example, could be the sign of a serious problem."

Homeowners and renters in Napa and Solano Counties who had damage from the South Napa Earthquake have until Dec. 29, 2014 to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA. Disaster assistance includes grants to help pay for temporary housing, essential home repairs and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other sources.

"Every resident and business should take the necessary time to do a thorough double check for damages of their property," said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. "It's important for homeowners and businesses to take advantage of available federal assistance and register as soon as possible."

Cal OES and FEMA offer the following questions and tips to help everyone spot potential damage:

Exterior Structure:

  • Has the house shifted off its foundation? Has it fallen away from the foundation in any place?

  • Is the structure noticeably leaning? When looked at from a distance, does it look tilted?

  • Do you see severe cracks or openings between the structure and outdoor steps or porches?

  • Do you experience seriously increased vibrations from passing trucks and buses?

  • Do you see severe cracks in external walls or foundation?

  • Are there any breaks in fence lines or other structures that might indicate nearby damage?

  • Did you check for damage to ceilings, partitions, light fixtures, the roof, fuel tanks and other attachments to the main frame of the structure?


  • Are there cracks between the chimney and the exterior wall or the roof?

  • Are there cracks in the liner?

  • Did you find unexplained debris in the fireplace?


  • Are power lines to your house noticeably sagging?

  • Is your hot water heater leaning or tilted?

  • Are all the water connections secure including those for pipes, toilets, faucets?


  • Are any doors and windows more difficult to open or close?

  • Is the roof leaking? Is there water damage to the ceiling?

  • Has the furnace shifted in any way? Are ducts and exhaust pipes connected and undamaged?

  • Do you feel unexplained draftiness? Are any cracks in the walls, poorly aligned window frames or loosened exterior sidings letting in breezes?

  • Has the floor separated from walls or stairwells anywhere inside the house?

  • Are there cracks between walls and built-in fixtures such as lights, cupboards or bookcases?

  • Does the floor feel "bouncy" or "soggy" when you walk on it?

  • Have you checked crawl spaces, stairwells, basements, attics and other exposed areas for signs of damage such as exposed or cracked beams, roof leaks and foundation cracks?

Low-interest disaster loans are also available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations that had damage or loss as a result of the South Napa Earthquake. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

To apply for disaster assistance, register online at or via smartphone or tablet at Applicants may also call FEMA at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. People who use 711-Relay or VRS may call 800-621-3362.

FEMA must verify damages for every application. FEMA inspectors have completed more than 2,600 inspections in Napa and Solano Counties. FEMA inspectors display photo identification badges.

Damage inspections by FEMA are free and generally take 30 to 45 minutes, and they are conducted by FEMA contract inspectors who have construction or appraisal expertise and have received disaster-specific training. Inspectors document the damage by checking the building structure and its systems, major appliances and any damaged septic systems and wells.

If applicants discover additional damage to their property after the inspection takes place, they can request another one by calling FEMA at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585.

Additional information on California disaster recovery is available at  

Follow FEMA on Twitter @femaregion6  and Cal OES @Cal_OES.