A year ago today, an area known for its political shakeups was shaken by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.
The rattling began at 1:51 p.m. with an epicenter in central Virginia, about 84 miles from the Washington, D.C. metro region where many in the midst of their workday felt the shaking.
Some 148,000 logged on to the U.S. Geological Survey’s “Did You Feel It?" page and reported feeling the quake. Scientists estimate as many as one third of the U.S population could have felt the shaking.
“For many, the earthquake was nothing more than a brief scare and something to wonder about afterwards. That was not the case, however, for a number of Virginians whose lives were significantly changed that day. Thousands of buildings were damaged and several were destroyed. Thankfully, injuries were minor,” Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said in statement Tuesday.
No one was killed in the earthquake but the effects of the rumble were visible throughout the region. Most of the damage was in Louisa County, well to the south of D.C. and Northern Virginia.
The Washington Monument suffered damage from the quake. The monument could be closed for the next two years while repairs are man.
A wall in Tysons Corner collapsed and fell onto several parked cars while the Alexandria City Hall and the nearby historic Gadsby’s Old Tavern also suffered damage.
Further to the south in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park damage was minimual. A tile reportedly fell out the ceiling at Cougar Elementary School in Manassas Park, according to local officials. Fall classes for 2011 hadn’t yet begun.
Earthquake damage in all Northern Virginia locales fell below the $704,000 threshold needed to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.)
In October, FEMA officials originally denied a request from Virginia officials for federal damage assistance, according to information from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office.
The governor called FEMA’s decision “unfair,” particularly because of the damaged to homes, public buildings and other property.
Virginia continued to work with FEMA to identify additional damage and then appealed the decision Oct. 28. FEMA in turn granted disaster assistance on Nov. 4, according to a release issued by the governor Wednesday.
“The strong support of Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Jim Webb, Congressman Eric Cantor and Virginia’s entire congressional delegation was appreciated and aided in ultimately securing disaster recovery assistance from FEMA," McDonnell said in a release. "That assistance has made a big difference for our citizens in Louisa County and other Virginia localities."
State agencies and local government eventually received more than $31 million in assistance from FEMA, while 6,400 homeowners and renters received $16.5 million from FEMA to rebuild, according to the release.
One year and 450 aftershocks later, scientists are still learning about 2011 quake and the fault lines responsible for it.
Earthquakes in this region are rare, but the 2011 tremor didn’t come as a complete shock to scientists who’d already pegged the Central Virginia seismic zone as one with an elevated risk for an earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Learning more about geological features and mapping the fault lines in the area will help seismologist learn more about the Central Virginia seismic zones.
The USGS may get a boost in funding for research from the White House; agency officials said President Barack Obama requested his budget for Fiscal Year 2013 to assess earthquake hazards in the eastern U.S.
Patch editors Jason Spencer and Drew Hansen contributed to this report.