Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) on Friday not only appealed a federal agency’s denial of earthquake aid for the state but also upped the ante, asking for an extra $7.4 million.
Early this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency turned down Virginia’s request for $15 million in disaster funds to help individual property owners and renters affected by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Aug. 23. The appeal seeks $22.4 million.
“Since that initial denial, officials have found more extensive damage than what was originally reported and some damage first categorized as minor in nature has become worse as a result of more than 40 aftershocks,” McDonnell said in a prepared statement. “Louisa County clearly needs federal assistance in order to recover from the strongest earthquake to impact Virginia in over a century.”
More than 1,400 homes — very few of them insured against earthquakes — were damaged, according to McDonnell’s office.
McDonnell is seeking the aid through FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, which provides money to homeowners, renters and businesses in the form of low-interest loans and grants, unemployment assistance, disaster housing assistance and crisis counseling.
In a separate request filed Monday, McDonnell asked for $31 million to help repair or replace Louisa County schools, two of them shuttered since the quake.
Virginia’s entire congressional delegation — including Rep. Eric Cantor (R), a disaster-spending hawk — sent a letter to FEMA, urging the agency to “give serious consideration to Virginia’s appeal.”
“The effects of the earthquake have caused this community and the Commonwealth to shoulder a great burden and prepare for a challenging recovery,” the letter said. “This will prove enormously difficult without federal assistance.”