When a 6.0 earthquake struck the Napa Valley area at 3:20 a.m. on August 24, 2014 one person was killed, about 200 were injured and gas and electric service was interrupted to an estimated 69,999 residences.
Many of those homes were damaged and had to be red tagged as unsafe to enter. Some people checked into hotels and others stayed with friends and relatives. Others weren’t so fortunate, and as often happens following a disaster, they turned to the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross, an almost entirely volunteer organization stands ready around the clock to respond to large and small disasters, and its members quickly mobilized to open overnight shelters in Napa and Vallejo. Along with providing a safe place to stay, the Red Cross assisted those affecting with food, clothing, emotional support and health services.
The Red Cross and partner agencies such as Tzu Chi and the Salvation Army collaborated to set up a temporary client service center to provide more information and referrals to services. Volunteers scrambled over Labor Day weekend to find a location for the service center -- and the Napa Marriott hotel stepped up to aid the community it serves.
“It was a huge focus for us to make sure we were there for the community. Helping the Red Cross seemed a really good way to do it,” said Misty Roberts, Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa Director of Conference Services.
Misty said she estimates about $25,000 in services and facilities was provided by the Marriott.
“It was perfect timing that I was here. I hadn’t intended to come to work the day the call for help was received,” said Misty, whose own home suffered some damage.
“We had a lot of damage ourselves,” said Marriott General Manager Shawn Milburn, referring to the 270-room, five suite hotel. He said the hotel had to close for five days because of water damage but was still able to help the Red Cross.
A Napa resident, Shawn’s own home experienced a fallen chimney and damaged fireplace as well as other damage.
Despite the damage, the Marriott was able to provide a ballroom where Red Cross staffers could work with clients as well as some guest rooms for Red Cross overnight stays. They also provided phones, audiovisual equipment, privacy drapes, power cords, coffee and snacks and rooms for emotional counseling of people affected by the event.
“The Marriott was very accommodating,” said Red Cross Service Center Lead Liz Ford. “They had also been affected so they had a lot of flooding in their conference rooms, but they ripped out the carpet in the conference room they loaned us and put down plastic so we could get going. It worked out really well.”
“It was very, very well run,” said Misty. “Everyone was so appreciative. Each and every Marriott employee wanted to take that extra step to help everyone. We were all one big team.”