Where were you when the earth began to shake at 1:51 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2011? Most people can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when the 5.8-magnitude earthquake brought a dozen states to a momentary halt. The epicenter of the quake was 10 miles south of the Town of Mineral in Louisa County, and three miles below the earth surface of the earth.
The strongest quake to hit Virginia since 1897, 5,976 Virginia homeowners from nine localities reported damage to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Louisa County Schools sustained more than $60 million in damage, while residences suffered more than $16 million in damage. North Anna Nuclear Power Plant, eleven miles from the epicenter, was forced to shut down two of its reactors for three months.
“It hit so hard it knocked people off their feet,” said Dale Mullen, Louisa County Attorney. The quake caused Louisa County High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School to be condemned. Both schools needed to be totally reconstructed. The new buildings opened in August, 2015.
Albemarle County was spared major damage, though the quake caused plenty of fear and some cosmetic issues. “There’s no major damage, although there are several instances of downed ceiling tiles, books off shelves, etc. but that’s it. Just some pretty major rocking and rolling,” said County Spokeswoman Lee Catlin.
In the six years since the quake, more than 450 aftershocks and small earthquakes have been recorded in the area.