Gov. Bob McDonnell, as promised, on Friday appealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of disaster assistance for Louisa County individuals impacted by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Aug. 23.
Since the federal government denied Virginia’s request on October 7, officials have found more extensive damage than initially reported, and damage that had appeared minor was worsened by over 40 aftershocks, Mr. McDonnell said. More than 1,400 homes have been damaged, and since the governor’s original Sept. 20 request, damage to an additional 400 homes has been reported, with very few homeowners having earthquake insurance.
“Louisa County clearly needs federal assistance in order to recover from the strongest earthquake to impact Virginia in over a century,” he said. “Disaster relief is a proper responsibility of the federal government. Volunteer groups are ill-equipped to repair earthquake damage and while state and local officials are doing everything they can, federal assistance is necessary in ensuring that affected Virginians are able to repair their homes and get back on their feet.”
Individual assistance would make funding available to homeowners, renters and businesses through low-interest loans and grants, unemployment assistance, disaster housing assistance and crisis counseling.
The entire Virginia congressional delegation also wrote a letter requesting that the federal government give “serious consideration” to the state’s appeal and supply supplemental federal assistance. Mr. McDonnell also requested public assistance for Louisa County on Oct. 21 to help with costs to repair county schools and to help state and local governments recover costs associated with the earthquake response.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management had estimated that there would be nearly $9 million in repair costs, but the estimate has risen to a total of $22.4 million in eligible damages for individual assistance, according to the letter from Mr. McDonnell.