- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday toured damaged areas at the epicenter of Tuesday’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake, walking through Louisa County High School and assessing a local supermarket in Mineral, Va.

“The damage is more widespread and more significant than the preliminary reports that we had gotten yesterday,” Mr. McDonnell said. “The great blessing out of this seems to be with an event of this proportion on the East Coast that there were no significant injuries.”

Mr. McDonnell pledged to residents to “do everything we can at the state level to provide the relief that’s necessary.”

Mr. Cantor flew back from Israel, where he was leading a congressional delegation, to tour the area. He said that a federal process is underway to assess the damage and address residents and businesses that may not have earthquake insurance.

The earthquake, felt in much of the eastern United States, was centered about 9 miles from Mineral.

They also toured the North Anna, Va., power station, whose two nuclear reactors a few miles from the epicenter of the quake shut down automatically on Tuesday.

“Everything worked exactly as it was supposed to — the automatic shutdown occurring, all of the procedures … all the reports to the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission],” Mr. McDonnell said Wednesday morning. “All those things have gone well.”

Dominion Power said Wednesday that all walk-down inspections of equipment most susceptible to seismic activity found that the equipment was in “satisfactory condition.”

Mr. McDonnell also announced Wednesday that $1.1 million was raised in August through private donations for the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund set up to aid communities impacted by April’s tornadoes in the state. A state contribution of $600,000 had been previously authorized, and individual citizen and state employee donations to the fund have totaled $25,500. Liquor stores run by the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control collected tax deductible donations at their store registers and accounted for another $111,500.

The fund will be made a permanent part if Virginia’s disaster relief tools, serving as a “fund of last resort” if other state, federal and private aid is not available to assist victims of disasters.

The governor and his staff asked for private donations after Virginia’s requests and appeals for assistance for the storm damage from the Federal Emergency Management Association were denied.

Mr. McDonnell has challenged Virginians to raise another $1 million by November 1 to help meet an estimated $2 million in unmet needs from April’s storms and to deposit money in the fund to help future disaster victims.

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