In the last year, the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund has distributed an additional $1.4 million to provide assistance to residents with continued rebuilding needs from the August 2014 South Napa Earthquake, and to help particularly vulnerable homeowners and the community at large be more resilient in a future earthquake or other disaster. These distributions are part of a third and final phase of support programs announced on the one-year anniversary of the South Napa Earthquake last August by Napa Valley Community Foundation (NVCF), which manages the Disaster Relief Fund created with a $10 million lead gift from Napa Valley Vintners.
Of the $10.9 million contributed to the Fund, $7.8 million has been distributed and another $590,000 has been earmarked for 17 local nonprofits who have agreed to play a particular role to help residents when the next declared disaster strikes Napa County. Altogether, this means $8.3 million has been distributed or committed, leaving approximately $2.6 million in the Fund. The Foundation may make additional investments in nonprofit and community resiliency in the months ahead, but will have at least $2 million available for the next declared natural disaster, man-made disaster or public health emergency in Napa County.
The $1.4 million in grant distributions made since last summer include:
- $588,876 to assist 63 qualified homeowners with case management and grants to repair structural damage to homes that remained unsafe after Federal Government relief programs, and the Foundation's first two phases of relief and rebuilding programs, had closed. Also included in this amount: materials used by 91 volunteers to repair 40 homes in Napa County.
- $635,250 to assist 179 qualified mobile homeowners with case management and grants to install seismic reinforcement on their homes for additional stability during future earthquakes. (Roughly five percent of Napa County's housing stock is comprised of mobile homes, where the working poor and fixed-income seniors are over-represented, and where damage from the South Napa Earthquake was often severe.)
- $161,800 to help nonprofits and the broader community be better prepared for the next disaster. Included in this amount: technical assistance to a core group of local nonprofits to enable them to create or update their Emergency Operations and Continuity of Operations Plans; and funding for a study that benchmarks Napa County to other California counties in terms of disaster preparedness and response capacity.
The $1.4 million above does not include the $590,000 that has been promised to 17 local nonprofits, each of which has committed to step up and lend a hand when the next declared natural disaster, man-made disaster or public health emergency strikes Napa County.
"We are proud of how swiftly our nonprofit partners rallied to help people after the 2014 South Napa Earthquake and last year's Valley Fire," said NVCF President Terence Mulligan, "and the $590,000 we've set aside under these pre-approved grant agreements should enable aid dollars to flow even more quickly the next time our community needs assistance." In order to qualify for a pre-approved grant, nonprofits must agree to play a specific role (such as providing meals or medical care) in a future disaster, and create or update their Emergency Operations and Continuity of Operations Plans with the assistance of an expert in the disaster preparedness field chosen by the Foundation, and paid for with grant dollars from the Disaster Relief Fund.
All direct assistance and cash grant programs closed in February 2016. Of the $8.3 million distributed or committed to date from the $10.9 million contributed to the Fund:
- 65 percent ($5.4 million) has been distributed in the form of direct cash aid to help 1,388 quake victims with recovery and rebuilding.
- 13 percent ($1.1 million) has been distributed to 23 nonprofits that provided services like medical care, counseling, temporary housing, food, clothing, legal aid, case management and application assistance to more than 12,000 quake victims in all phases of the relief effort.
- 10 percent ($797,000) has been distributed for preparedness and future resiliency, including seismic reinforcement for qualified mobile homeowners and programs to help nonprofits and the broader community be better prepared for the next disaster.
- 7 percent ($590,000) has been committed under pre-approved grant agreements aimed at getting aid dollars moving more quickly and more efficiently when the next declared natural disaster, man-made disaster or public health emergency occurs in Napa County.
- 5 percent ($425,000) has been spent by the Foundation to defray a portion of its direct program expenses, over a two-year period, to manage the Disaster Relief Fund. The Foundation's role has been to: convene public, nonprofit and private sector stakeholders to assess needs, gaps and opportunities -- and ways to address them; recruit nonprofit partners and jointly develop programs for recovery, rebuilding and future resiliency; collect and steward relief dollars; create grant agreements and monitor nonprofit partners' progress in twice-monthly reports; ensure compliance with charitable regulations; and adjust programs and eligibility criteria in response to changing events.
Mulligan said that Federal rules for how charitable resources are to be spent following a disaster -- and the two years that have passed since the August 2014 earthquake -- preclude the Foundation from distributing additional relief dollars to residents who may still be struggling to recover. "Our goal has always been to help as many qualified residents as possible, knowing that charitable dollars alone could never make everyone whole. We know that some people haven't been able to get all the support they may need, and truly regret we can't do more at this time," he added, noting that the significant investment required to repair the 50 structures in Napa that remain red-tagged would likely constitute an impermissible private benefit for property owners. "To give cash aid after a disaster, you need a large group of people in need, independent verification of losses, and income screening" to ensure compliance with Federal regulations. "As time goes on, this becomes increasingly difficult to do, especially when making a home habitable might carry a six-figure price tag," that is orders of magnitude above the $20,000 maximum grant awards made available to help qualified residents repair their homes in prior phases of the Disaster Relief Fund.
Following last summer's one-year quake anniversary and the Valley Fire in neighboring Lake County, the Foundation convened local nonprofits to share lessons learned and talk about ways to improve preparedness for, and relief efforts following, future disasters. NVCF also invited a group of civic leaders to review and discuss the findings of a study that benchmarks Napa County to other California counties in terms of disaster preparedness and response capacity.
That study says Napa County has many strengths, but points to a few gaps that need attention in the area of disaster preparedness and response. High on the list of gaps: unlike many places in California and around the country, Napa County doesn't have an organization that brings together public sector, nonprofit, faith community and business leaders so they can more effectively collaborate, coordinate and communicate across all phases of a disaster. In other communities, these organizations are called COADs, for "Community Organizations Active in Disaster." (They are also sometimes called VOADs, for Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster.)
"Today, on the second anniversary of the South Napa Earthquake, we are bringing together a group of smart, civic-minded people to help us design and build a COAD for Napa County," said Mulligan, noting that COADs have emerged throughout California following earthquakes, fires and floods. Such events have a way of putting in plain view the need for more systematic and coordinated relief efforts, he added.
The Foundation may make additional investments in nonprofit and community resiliency in the months ahead, most likely to help a COAD get up and running, but will have at least $2 million available for the next declared natural disaster, man-made disaster or public health emergency in Napa County.
About Napa Valley Community Foundation
Napa Valley Community Foundation helps donors transform their passion for giving into greater impact. Now celebrating 20 years of service to Napa Valley, NVCF has served as a bridge between philanthropic families and hard-working nonprofit agencies since 1994, bringing people, ideas and resources together to enhance the quality of life in our community. From American Canyon to Calistoga, NVCF has distributed more than $40 million in grants since it was founded, and currently serves as the philanthropic partner to 100 individuals, families, nonprofit agencies and corporations in Napa Valley. To learn more visit www.napavalleycf.org