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DAMAGE TOPS $90 MILLION
Damage estimates from the August earthquake-now more than $90 million-are still rolling into area local governments.

Date published: 9/29/2011

By RUSTY DENNEN

Damage estimates from the magnitude-5.8 earthquake on Aug. 23 are still coming in, but the total for the area so far is more than $90 million, according to reports from localities.

Louisa County and the towns of Mineral and Louisa--all in the vicinity of the epicenter--suffered the worst economic hit, by far.

Louisa County reported the most--at least $80.6 million.

Businesses, homes, government buildings and churches were affected throughout the rural county bordering Lake Anna.

At least four houses were severely damaged, and a number of other homeowners reported significant damage. Louisa County High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School had structural damage and are closed. Historic Gilboa Christian Church needs major repairs. Merchants in Mineral, such as Main Street Supply, a plumbing and electrical shop, had damaged buildings and lost merchandise.

Many of those losses were not covered by insurance, making the impact on homeowners and businesses much worse.

Of Louisa's $80.6 million toll, $63.8 million was at the county's public schools.

Private homes had an estimated $14.7 million in damage; commercial buildings, $1 million; government buildings, $690,000; and religious structures, $475,000.

To date, Louisa has received more than 1,120 damage reports, of which about 680 have been assessed by damage teams.

Gov. Bob McDonnell last week requested federal disaster designation for Louisa from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Individual Assistance Program.

That would make 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 the county. Other localities could be added on as new or further damage is identified.

Culpeper County estimated its damage at $10 million.

That figure includes nearly $1 million in damage to historic St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, whose sanctuary was built in 1821. Also on the tab: more than $60,000 in demolition costs for the Ritz Hi-Hat building on North Main Street, and damage to adjacent buildings.

Some 30 miles from the quake epicenter, the town sustained more damage than some areas closer to Louisa. One geologist said pockets of higher damage, away from the epicenter, are not unusual.


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