12 Investigates: Tracking earthquake recovery money

Published: Aug. 23, 2012 at 10:03 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM EDT
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LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - With damage to homes, schools and public buildings topping $80 million for Louisa County, 12 Investigates how Louisa County is spending the recovery money.

When Reverend Linda Crabbs wasn't here at her Louisa County church, she spent much of the last year simply going door-to-door spreading a message of faith in your community.

"Just the help and the hope of a lifetime of neighbors," said Crabbs. "Of people who would give you the shirt off their back." She's one of several Louisa citizens who went above and beyond to help neighbors in need after the 5.8 magnitude quake.

"Unlike many other natural disasters where you can at least prepare if you have a hurricane coming or something like that. Here it was sudden. All of a sudden there lives had changed," said Crabbs.

One year ago today, in less than a minute, people were left with tens of thousands of dollars in damage to their homes.

Donations poured into Louisa and the county immediately decided citizens, not the government should control that fund.

"They were the best people to be able to judge the needs of other citizens and we wanted to make sure it wasn't going to be encumbered by any governmental and bureaucratic process," said Louisa County Finance Director Christian Goodwin.

Louisa established the Earthquake Recovery Fund and placed the money under the control of the non profit Fluvanna/Louisa Housing Foundation which is led by Howard Evergreen.

"We were making it up as we went but it worked, it worked really well," said Evergreen.

In all, the group raised more than $450,000. They asked average citizens to be on the board.

"I would say that they're above average citizens. One's a minister, one worked for social services, another had been a builder," said Evergreen.

These citizens went over the applications and damage estimates. Reverend Crabbs used to be an insurance agent. They had the skill sets to help them make the hard decisions.

FEMA limits what you can get to about 31,000. There are a lot of people with 45,000 to 90,000 to 100,000 dollars worth of damage," said Evergreen.

The committee used the donations to fill the gaps. Homeowners could only get up to a maximum of $15,000 from the relief fund.

"We felt that those people were on the ground, they knew as well as anyone what the needs were. What the most pressing needs were," said Goodwin.

Folks like Linda Crabbs, donated their time, and walked families through the entire process. She says instead of a government controlled fund, this was neighbor helping neighbor.

"This will build relationships and carry on long beyond the disaster," said Crabbs.

And they haven't spent it all either. There are still people in the pipeline. The group is still accessing damage. The relief fund isn't entirely out of the public eye either- the fund will be audited this year to ensure every dollar was spent to help families.

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