Experts recommend earthquake insurance for Central Virginia

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We've already felt more than 100 aftershocks from that big Louisa quake six months ago. Experts tell NBC12 our area is sitting on top of the fourth most active earthquake zone on the east coast and say you may want to consider earthquake insurance.

The quake in Louisa started with that slow rumble and rattle, built to a booming shake, plowed through convenience store shelves, dropped ceilings to the ground and even cracked the Washington Monument and damaged the National Cathedral. Seismologists say the reason it was felt so broadly is the 5.8 magnitude quake was dipped and pointed and toward the northeast; meaning Washington felt it even more than Richmond.

"The Central Virginia zone is pretty dag gone regular in what it's been doing," said Virginia Tech seismologist Dr. Martin Chapman. The university had three of the few scientists' stations that recorded this quake.

"We will continue to see aftershocks from this earthquake- maybe for a year or two or three, even longer," says Chapman.

All recent earthquakes Chapman has tracked in Central Virginia in the last 35 years are clustered between Richmond and Charlottesville.

"This is going to happen again and it may be a bigger earthquake next time. The rocks are very strong," explained Chapman. "They're very old, they've very cold. They haven't been subjected to the kinds of high strain rates that you have in California."

These strong rocks mean an earthquake's energy, or the shaking you feel, doesn't lose steam as it leaves the epicenter. That's why a 5.8 magnitude here feels a lot stronger and travels further than a 5.8 would in California.

"The hazard in Central Virginia is not as high as it is say in the Bay Area of San Francisco, but it's really not all that much less," said Chapman.

He believes home owners in greater Richmond should run out and buy earthquake insurance. "Yeah! Absolutely, because this won't be the only earthquake we see."

Chapman says large quakes like the one we felt in August happen every 75 to 100 years in Virginia, but he warns that is not a schedule you should bank on.

"They don't happen like clockwork. Sometimes they are clustered in time. You can take your chance and it might not happen again in your lifetime, but then again, it might," added Chapman.

We did a little research and earthquake insurance is fairly cheap, but many insurance companies wouldn't let you buy it right after the quake, putting a 60 day moratorium on adding it to a policy.

You may want to check with your insurance agent again; restrictions are starting to lift.

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