Two Years After Quake, Recovery Looks Strong

By: Val Thompson Email
By: Val Thompson Email

Louisa County, Va. August 23, 2013

It was exactly two years ago Friday that a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled Central Virginia and beyond, damage homes, businesses, schools, and the Washington Monument, among other things.

John Lyga had just finished making renovations to his 80-year-old house when the earthquake hit.

"Suddenly realized that the floor was shaking," Lyga said. "Bricks came down on the roof."

The quake broke Lyga's chimney, which fell and smashed the heating and air conditioning unit outside.

Inside the home, he estimates there were "100 cracks" on the walls. Most of them were minor. The quake also knocked pictures off the walls and opened kitchen cabinets.

Two years later, his home shows no signs of damage, and he thanks FEMA for that.

"He inspected the whole house and then sent us a check," Lyga said. FEMA's check to Lyga was worth $12,000. He used the money to patch the cracked walls and have the chimney repaired.

In all, FEMA approved nearly $40 million to help homeowners recover in Central Virginia. The agency also gave $19 million to help rebuild Louisa County High School. The county held a ground breaking ceremony for that new school earlier this week.

But the manager of Miller's Market in Mineral says they didn't get any FEMA money. Instead, they relied on a community response.

"Oh, it was wonderful," said store manager Kathy Campbell. "They all came in and helped us stack the shelves and everything." The store was able to reopen just two days after the earthquake spilled almost all the merchandise on the floor.

Campbell says, they are still discovering damage.

"Every now and then you'll find something that was an affect from it and (we'll) fix it," Campbell said.

Even though the store is now back to normal, Campbell still fears another quake.

"You always worry about it," she said. "Every time the train comes up, until you hear that whistle, you just cringe."

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