FEMA denies earthquake aid
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied Virginia’s request for individual assistance to help property owners affected by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Virginia on Aug. 23. Damage assessments for residential properties are nearly $15 million, mostly in uninsured costs.
“We are very disappointed in FEMA’s decision, and we will immediately appeal,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said today. “Disaster relief and public safety are core functions of the federal government. Unfortunately, volunteer groups are ill-equipped to repair earthquake damage and while state and local officials are doing everything they can, federal assistance is necessary in ensuring that affected Virginians are able to get their homes back in working order and get back on their feet again.”
The Individual Assistance Program would have made funding available to homeowners, renters and businesses in the form of low-interest loans and grants, unemployment assistance, disaster housing assistance and crisis counseling.
Since Aug. 23, local and state emergency officials, the Virginia departments of Fire Programs, Transportation, State Police and other response agencies have worked tirelessly to help residents and governments respond to and recover from the earthquake. Virginia representatives have worked alongside representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to document, report and assess damage in order to make this request for federal disaster assistance for individuals.
“If damage from a once-in-a-generation, 5.8 magnitude earthquake does not qualify for federal disaster relief, then I don’t know what does,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, who “fully support(s)” McDonnell’s decision to appeal the FEMA move.
“Members of our staff have been working closely with federal, state and local officials to assess the damage and submit the required documentation, and we will continue to try to be helpful as the Louisa community works to rebound from this event. We also now will work closely with local officials to make sure residents are aware that additional resources, including low-interest loans for homeowners, renters and businesses, may be available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration,” Warner said.