From Napa Valley Register: Earthquake victims receive help from Habitat for Humanity

Nearly two years after the magnitude-6.0 earthquake hit Napa County, Damian Uriarte’s family is just now beginning to recover from the damage.

The Uriartes, along with several other families in Napa County, are receiving critical repairs to their home, including a damaged chimney box that left the family without an affordable source of heat for two winters.

The home repairs are provided by Solano-Napa Habitat for Humanity, a local nonprofit organization whose main mission is to build affordable homes and repair existing ones.

The organization worked with local agencies to identify families in need of help, and received project funding from its own private donors as well as the Napa Valley Community Foundation. All of the home repairs have recently been completed.

“Although the damage may not appear catastrophic, the repairs needed are incredibly important and greatly affect these homeowners’ quality of life,” said Mark Baides, the construction manager in charge of the earthquake projects.

Damage to the homes included broken pipes, cracked walls and cracked chimney boxes. For more than a year, families were living in homes overwhelmed with the stench of raw sewage, or with no access to a safe shower.

“When I first saw the conditions these families were living in, I was very angry that they hadn’t been helped yet,” Baides said. “Now I’m just thankful they are finally getting what they need to move forward and have a safe place to live.”

“Now we can move forward. We will be forever grateful for the teams that came and offered their services to repair our home,” said Uriarte. “Our family will never forget you.”

Although Habitat for Humanity is not considered a first-responder when a disaster strikes, the organization has been steadfast in advocating for the earthquake victims, even years later, so rehabilitation can happen and homeowners can get back on their feet.

“People have this misconception that the earthquake damage is all taken care of, but from what I have seen, there are many more families that could have been helped sooner, and that still need help,” said Baides. “These families deserve what we are giving them, and I’d like to see all of them get the help they need.”

Donations to Solano-Napa Habitat for Humanity can be made at SolanoNapaHabitat.org or by mailing a check to 5130 Fulton Drive, Suite R, Fairfield, CA 94534.

The organization will soon begin a capital campaign for the first-ever ground-up home build in Napa County.

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