Virginia School Construction Begins After 2011 Quake

August 23, 2013

Construction has started on a new high school in Louisa County to replace one destroyed by a 2011 earthquake.

Officials broke ground on the new school Wednesday evening.

Friday marks the two-year anniversary of the magnitude-5.8 earthquake that was centered in Mineral, Va., and was felt far along the densely populated Eastern seaboard from Georgia to New England.

Media outlets report it will cost about $75 million for school repairs and new construction in Louisa County, including about $49 million for the new high school. That school is expected to be finished for the 2015-16 school year.

“I can’t wait,” freshman Mychael Williams said at the ceremony.

Construction on a school to replace Thomas Jefferson Elementary is expected to be completed next year.

Students have spent the past two years attending classes in other schools and rented trailers.

Williams’ grandfather, William Fuller of Bumpass, said the earthquake was a serious “inconvenience” for many residents but could have been worse. No one was seriously hurt.

“The county will be better for that experience,” Harper said. “Out of tragedy comes triumph.”

The construction marks the last major step in the school division’s rebuilding efforts.

“At times, it was quite frustrating,” said Louisa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Willie L. Harper. “There was a lot to overcome. I think the pieces have been picked up for the most part.”

The Louisa Education Foundation has raised $260,000 in the past two years for earthquake recovery efforts. Bricks from the demolished high school were sold for $1.

“This earthquake really brought this community together,” said LEF treasurer Doug Whitlock.

School Board Chairman Gregory V. Strickland negotiations continue with the school division’s insurance company over money, saying he couldn’t discuss details because of legal concerns.

“It is still a difficult time for us,” said Strickland. “And we’ll get through it, but it will take perseverance to get there.”

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