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Earthquake retrofit program expands to Santa Rosa, Sonoma

For the first time, local homeowners will be eligible for a grant program offering up to $3,000 for work to reduce the risk of earthquake damage.

Registration for the 2019 Earthquake Brace + Bolt program opened Tuesday and closes Nov. 13. Santa Rosa and the city of Sonoma are among the cities where homeowners will be eligible for the first time, according to a news release.

The program draws $3 million each from the California Earthquake Authority and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide 2,000 grants for homeowners to upgrade home stability by bolting them to their foundations and adding bracing around crawl spaces. Homes built before 1980 on raised foundations can often benefit from such bracing.

The goal of retooling vulnerable older houses is to reduce the damage - and costs - from future quakes. The program is expanding into Santa Rosa based on the concentration of older homes in the area and “likelihood of strong ground shaking,” said Janiele Maffei, the CEA’s chief mitigation officer and executive director of the EBB program.

“We know this is earthquake country,” Maffei said.

There’s a 72 percent chance a magnitude 6.7 earthquake strikes the Bay Area by 2043, said Keith Knudsen, a USGS geologist and deputy director of the Menlo Park-based Earthquake Science Center.

Potential applicants can get started at earthquakebracebolt.com. After the registration window closes next month, applicants will be selected by random drawing and notified in early 2019 whether they’ve been selected via email.

You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or will.schmitt@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @wsreports.

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