FEMA earthquake experts tour Louisa County damage

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) – Earthquake experts from California are in Louisa County this week, getting their first up-close look at the damage caused by the 5.8 magnitude tremor of two weeks ago. Their findings will go a long way toward figuring out if FEMA will provide money to help people re-build.

The house, named Cougar Run, is all but empty inside. But outdoors, it's a spectacle.

"We're seeing the shingles have shifted and busted," said Casey Littlefield, a building inspector in Louisa.

Experts are snapping pictures, taking notes, and seeing just how badly the house was broken apart by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake on August 23.

Bill Boyer is with FEMA.

"You're not really sure what you're gonna see, until you get there," Boyer said.

And now that they're here, they can see all the fallen bricks and cracked walls. Things that will be very expensive to fix.

"There's a lot of safety issues. Things don't necessarily show up on day one," Boyer said.

For the next several days, FEMA will be looking at homes and businesses. They'll add up all the damage, and then a report goes to Gov. Bob McDonnell, who, later, will decide whether to apply for federal disaster aid. Individuals could get more than $30,000 in loans or reimbursements, but it's far too early to say the money is guaranteed.

"We just don't know if we're gonna be able to qualify. The one difference here in Louisa, is the amount of insurance. Earthquake damage is not covered by homeowner's insurance," said Bob Spieldenner of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

That means the damage could be covered by FEMA, but that decision likely won't be made for several weeks.

Even if the county, one day, becomes eligible for the federal help, it takes a long time for the money to come in. So emergency leaders say if you need to make repairs to your house, do them now, and worry about the reimbursements later.

Also today, we learned the earthquake shook the North Anna nuclear power plant at twice the level it was designed to withstand. Authorities say the plant suffered only minor damage, though. They're meeting this week to learn more about the incident.

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