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Obama declines McDonnell’s invitation to tour quake-damaged area

- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2011

President Obama has declined Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's request to stop in Louisa, the site of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, when he swings through the state next week in an effort to boost support for his jobs package.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate called the governor at about 2 p.m. this afternoon to let him know.

"The impacts of the August earthquake on Louisa County were severe," McDonnell spokesman J. Tucker Martin said in a statement. "The Governor believes the President would have gained a valuable perspective on the matter by personally witnessing the damage, and hearing directly from residents. Governor McDonnell continues to believe that federal assistance should be provided to Louisa County in order to help residents recover from the historic and damaging August earthquake."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had denied Mr. McDonnell's request for Individual Assistance to help owners affected by the earthquake. Damage assessments for residential property are estimated at nearly $15 million.

Mr. McDonnell has since appealed. But the governor will be donating $5,000 from his Opportunity Virginia PAC to help relief efforts underway — $2,500 to the Louisa Recovery Fund, designed to help homeowners with repairs to damage houses, and $2,500 to the Louisa County Public School Disaster Relief Fund.

Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker and Deputy Secretary of Public Safety John Buckovich will present the governor's donations at tonight's "Louisa Cares" benefit at Louisa County Middle School.

Mr. Obama will swing through North Carolina and Virginia on a three-day bus tour to promote his jobs plan, which suffered a setback in the Senate earlier this week. He is scheduled to visit Emporia and Hampton in Virginia on Tuesday.

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