- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2011

RICHMOND — An earthquake, a hurricane, storms and flooding have caused more than $100 million in damage to Virginia state and local facilities in the past month, with some damages in Northern Virginia still to be calculated.

About $16 million worth of damage to state facilities was related to Hurricane Irene, Michael Cline, director of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, told the state Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. Virginia is responsible for about $4 million, he said.

Costs to local governments, including public property, are estimated at $52 million.

Under the federal Public Assistance Grant program, which the federal government approved for Virginia, FEMA would pick up at least 75 percent of eligible costs for emergency measures and restoration.

Four deaths were attributed to the hurricane, which moved through the area on Aug. 28-29. One hundred properties were destroyed, 650 properties sustained major damage and an additional 3,600 properties sustained minor damage.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has also requested federal disaster assistance for the Aug. 23 earthquake that struck near Mineral, Va., last month through FEMA’s individual assistance program.

“We’re optimistic that we’re going to receive a federal grant for individual assistance,” Mr. Cline said Thursday. The grant could provide low-interest loans of up to $240,000 for homeowners, $40,000 for renters and $2 million for businesses.

Damage to two schools in Louisa County resulting from the earthquake totaled about $59 million, Mr. Cline said, and the state is still evaluating damage to public property to determine whether it can qualify for public assistance from the federal government to help with recovery from the earthquake.

Meanwhile, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee also wreaked havoc in Northern Virginia. A final damage estimate has not been issued because crews continue to assess the fallout from the storm, which brought heavy rain and massive flooding on Sept. 8.

“Every day, we find more damage,” Prince William County Emergency Services Manager Patrick Collins said. “Right now, it’s pretty much impossible [to estimate] because we keep adding things. The level just keeps going up. It’s not going down.”

In Prince William County, about 70 homes in the Holly Acres mobile home park were condemned in the aftermath of the storm. The Board of County Supervisors has since allocated some $60,000 to help victims of the flooding — but that may not be nearly enough.

There are still about 1,000 homes that need to be assessed to determine whether the damage could be enough to warrant a possible application for individual assistance from FEMA, Mr. Collins said.

The Huntington community in Fairfax County was also hit with more than a foot of rain in some places, prompting Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland, Mount Vernon Democrat, to ask county staff to look into a 2012 bond referendum that could include flood mitigation funding for the community or allow the area to be redeveloped.

The tropical storm also caused millions in damage to the state’s transportation infrastructure, said Emmett R. Heltzel, state maintenance engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation. It washed out three bridges and several culverts in Fairfax County and shut down the Capital Beltway, with damage to roads and bridges in Fairfax alone estimated at up to $10 million.

Fortunately, Mr. Heltzel said, the three bridges, located at Beach Mill Road over Nichols Branch, Towlston Road over Rocky Run, and Lorton Road over Giles Run — slated to receive temporary replacements within eight weeks — had already been in line for permanent replacements in the next two years.

“Mother Nature did our demolition work for us, just a little prematurely,” he said.

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