“Devastated by an Earthquake Days Before Christmas, Homeowners Still Grapple with Mortgage Payments”

In the early hours just before Christmas, Jacqui McIntosh and her husband were jolted awake at 2:34 a.m., consumed by terror. Their entire home was violently shaking, tearing their bed apart and sending them crashing to the ground. Rio Dell, California, was struck by a formidable earthquake measuring 6.4 on the magnitude scale, unleashing chaos upon the lives of its 3,400 residents nestled near the Oregon border. The tremors brought widespread devastation to the area, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

McIntosh vividly recalls the chaotic moments that followed. After the tremors subsided, she rushed downstairs, only to be met with a gust of natural gas escaping from a ruptured line. Amidst the screams of her neighbors, the blaring alerts from state earthquake notifications echoed through their phones. Overwhelmed with fear, her tearful husband expressed his doubts about their survival that day.

The earthquake, which occurred on December 20, 2022, claimed two lives and displaced hundreds of people from their homes. For McIntosh, the devastation was severe. The tremors had lifted her house off its foundation, shifting it 22 inches to the east, rendering it uninhabitable.

Inspectors deemed their house unsafe and labeled it as a red-tagged property. After half a year has passed, McIntosh is now confronted with the weighty responsibility of a mortgage on a house that demands approximately $150,000 in repairs, which she must shoulder personally, as she revealed during her interview with CNN.. She laments that her home, for which she had just secured a buyer, has now become a colossal burden that could bankrupt her.

The McIntoshes are among many still grappling with the aftermath of the Rio Dell earthquake. They, along with numerous others in the city, are part of the millions of Californians who lack earthquake insurance to assist with the cost of repairs. Moreover, they belong to the vast number of individuals living in older residences that have not undergone retrofitting to align with the current seismic building codes. This leaves them particularly vulnerable to the potential impact of earthquakes.

The destruction in Rio Dell has starkly exposed the risks faced by residents of California, a state more prone to damaging earthquakes than any other. Many Californians, despite residing in one of the most expensive housing markets in the US and living atop a labyrinth of active fault lines, choose to forgo earthquake insurance or simply cannot afford it, leaving themselves vulnerable to potential financial ruin.

According to Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, a nonprofit earthquake insurer established by the state, a staggering 90% of homes in California lack earthquake insurance coverage.

“It’s a gamble to not have it,” admits Rio Dell City Manager Kyle Knopp.

Brian Ferguson, spokesperson for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, acknowledges the gravity of the situation. According to him, “We are fully aware that a major earthquake striking one of our densely populated areas poses the greatest threat to our state. Unlike wildfires or recent floods, the most critical risk in California lies in the occurrence of a substantial earthquake within a densely populated region.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exit mobile version