Filipinos among those affected by SF Bay Area earthquake

By Henni Espinosa , ABS-CBN North America Bureau

August 25, 2014

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – For many people living in the San Francisco Bay Area, little tremors here and there have become somewhat common. But Sunday morning’s quake was different. And many kababayans knew this one was going to cause chaos.

Downtown Napa Valley is an area usually teeming with tourists. But on Sunday, people swarmed the area to witness the damage done by California’s strongest earthquake in 25 years. The 6.0 magnitude quake hit the Napa Valley/American Canyon areas at about 3:20 a.m. It was so strong that it was felt as far as 200 miles away.

A Filipino couple that lives close to the epicenter of the quake was dismayed to see historical buildings be destroyed.

“It’s very devastating you know,” said Mary Payomo Barnachea. “I’m just glad that no major buildings had fallen down. It looks like (the damage) is structural, but it looks like everybody will be able to rebuild again.”

Around the downtown Napa area, homes were left uninhabitable. Businesses were forced to temporarily close shop, thousands were left without power, water lines burst, and gas leaks were reported.

Hazel Bell, a Filipino caregiver, lives in nearby Vallejo and she said her furniture and appliances were thrown around during the quake.

On Sunday morning, when she went to work for an elderly lady who lived in a Napa Valley mobile home park, she was shocked to hear that blocks away, some homes caught fire.

“I’m still thankful that nothing happened to me, that I’m still alive,” said Bell . “I’m still in shock.”

Meantime, the Bernabe family lives right in the epicenter in American Canyon. They said it was an experience they will never forget. “The house was shattering. The whole room was shaking back and forth, and everything started falling off the shelves,” said Irene Bernabe.

Amid the terror, the Bernabes composed themselves and hid under a table until the shaking stopped.

“Because if something lands, it goes to the table, and it won’t hurt you,” reasoned Sophia Bernabe, Irene’s daughter.

They have prepared for the predicted aftershocks by stocking up on emergency kits and supplies. Experts said that in the next few days, a 5.0 magnitude quake could once again hit the San Francisco Bay Area.

Meantime, the Queen of the Valley Medical Center said it treated about 208 patients since the earthquake struck. Most of the patients did not have life-threatening injuries.

Emergency shelters have also been set up by the Red Cross – such as one at the Crossroads Community Church in Napa.

Philippine Consulate officials in San Francisco said they are still monitoring the situation and are still trying to find out if there were Filipinos who were injured or who were displaced because of the quake.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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