Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Bob McDonnell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2011
Office of the Governor
Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: (804) 225-4260
Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Contact: Bob Spieldenner
Phone: (804) 674-2400
Governor McDonnell Requests Federal Disaster Assistance for Louisa County in Wake of Virginia Earthquake
~Assistance could help individuals with repair and recovery~
RICHMOND – 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 Aug. 23 and was followed by more than 30 aftershocks
“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,” said Governor McDonnell. “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.”
The governor requested federal aid through FEMA’s Individual Assistance program. If approved, the 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.
Virginia began damage assessments 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.
“We have safety concerns with many of the damaged buildings because much of the structural damage is difficult to detect,” said Governor McDonnell. “Our state professionals are working diligently with local governments to provide guidance and assistance to residents, and we have many wonderful volunteer organizations that already are helping address the needs of victims. Unfortunately, repairing the type of structural damage that exists as a result of the earthquake and covering the high cost of repairs is not typically within the means of volunteer groups to provide.”
In addition, Governor McDonnell requested Hazard Mitigation Assistance for all Virginia localities. The Hazard Mitigation Assistance program helps local and state governments take actions to reduce the impact of future disasters, such as modifying or removing structures from a hazard area and conducting public education campaigns. Virginia is currently evaluating damage to public infrastructure to determine if it can qualify for FEMA’s Public Assistance program.
According the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck Virginia at 1:51 p.m. Aug. 23. The epicenter was located approximately five miles south-southwest of Mineral in Louisa County. It was the strongest earthquake to strike the eastern U.S. since 1944, and the second strongest in Virginia’s history. Governor McDonnell declared a state of emergency Aug. 26 to support local and state response.
Be ready. Be willing to help.
Virginia Disaster Relief Fund
How is the money distributed?
Fund proceeds will be distributed to local long-term recovery groups, members of the Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and other non-profit and faith-based organizations as a grant.
Many of these groups work directly with individuals and families following a disaster.
How else can I donate?
The Virginia Disaster Relief Fund benefits projects that include: repair or rebuilding of underinsured dwellings, transportation assistance, replacing essential household items, helping renters establish new rental residence, temporary living expenses while recovering from loss, and more.
How can I donate?
If you want to help, send checks made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia with “Virginia Disaster Relief Fund” noted in the memo line to:
P.O. Box 1971
Richmond, VA 23218-1971