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Governor requests federal help for Louisa earthquake relief


September 20, 2011

Contact: Amanda L. Reidelbach

Phone: (540) 223-6929


LOUISA, VIRGINIA –Governor Bob McDonnell has requested a federal disaster declaration to help individuals and families in Louisa County recover from the impacts of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck August 23 and was followed by more than 30 aftershocks.

Governor McDonnell stated in an official release, “The historic earthquake – felt by millions along the east coast – was centered in Louisa County, and its impact on our citizens cannot be measured in just dollars and cents. Family life in so many communities has been disrupted, with homes destroyed and children unable to attend their schools because of the destruction. Even today the full extent of the impact is unknown as new damage continues to be discovered and additional aftershocks make existing damage worse.”

Damage assessments began immediately after the earthquake, but unlike other natural disasters where damage is readily apparent, it became clear that structural engineers with earthquake experience were needed to properly identify and catalog the damage. FEMA damage evaluators from the west coast were brought in to assist. Much of the quake damage was not visible from the outside of buildings, and evaluating the damage is more complex and time consuming than wind and flood damage.

If approved, the federal individual assistance program makes funding available for homeowners and renters in the form of grants and low-interest loans as well as disaster housing assistance.  The governor also requested disaster unemployment assistance, legal services and crisis counseling for Louisa County.  Other localities could be added on as new or further damage is identified.

Louisa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Willie Gentry said, “The County of Louisa continues to grapple with the earthquake’s long-term impact.  The quake rendered many homes in the County structurally unsound and also damaged chimneys and other sources of heat.  With colder weather approaching, the governor’s request for a disaster declaration positions the county to receive critical aid at a time when our citizens need it most.”

To date, that have been more than 1,100 reports of damage caused by the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, of which 680 have been assessed. Current damage assessments for residential properties is $14.7 million. The majority of residential structures did not have earthquake insurance.

“County officials and staff have been working diligently along with our partners at the state and federal level in a team effort to get relief to our citizens,” said County Administrator Robert Dubé.  “This positive step moves us closer in the ongoing effort to gain any and all assistance available for Louisa County.”

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