Federal government approves disaster aid for Virginia’s earthquake

The federal government, after an appeal by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), has reversed its position and approved disaster aid to people in the area most affected by the August earthquake, authorities said Friday evening.

A statement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency said “the President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Louisa County.”

The successful appeal, an apparent demonstration of the value of persistence, was backed by the state’s entire legislative delegation, including Rep. Eric Cantor, (R) a disaster-spending hawk. It also came after many aftershocks.

Since the initial denial, McDonnell said in a statement, damage was found to be more extensive than first reported.

McDonnell said damage has been reported to more than 1,400 homes, the number rising after each aftershock. He said that since his Sept. 20 request for individual aid, damage has been reported to more than 400 additional homes.

“We are very grateful,” said Louisa County Administrator Robert Dube. “Our citizens need the help badly.”

He said damage to individual homes was estimated at more than $18 million.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called the decision “the best news I’ve heard in some time.”

“This is very welcome news for homeowners and business people in Louisa,” Warner said in a statement. “Approval of this federal assistance will provide access to low-interest loans and other aid that can help individuals rebuild and recover from the damage caused by a rare, once-in-a-generation 5.8-magnitude earthquake.”

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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