Sparta neighbors still on edge one year after 5.1 magnitude earthquake

North Carolina

SPARTA, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Roger Jones lost his home and everything in it during a 5.1 magnitude earthquake last year in Sparta. It shook parts of western North Carolina.

Jones is living with his wife in an RV paid for by the county until their home is rebuilt in a few months. He still remembers it like it was yesterday.

“It was sad. But yeah, you got to look at the positive, we’ll have a new home,” Jones said. “We’re just looking at it as we’re on an extended vacation. So we’re making the best of it.”

Right now there’s still a lot of work to be done. The state has given $24 million in recovery funds to help rebuild and reconstruct the more than 530 homes and businesses that were damaged or destroyed.

$4.6 million has already been used and more than 100 buildings are being repaired. State Individual Assistance Grants totaling $112,000 have been given to residents.

Residents have received $1.17 million from the U.S Small Business Administration. Mayor Wes Brinegar says about $9 million more will be needed as more people are finding damage from the shake and aftershocks.

Some buildings near where the quake split the road on Highway 21 have been deemed unsafe to live in. Others like the Veterans of Foreign Wars building have been rebuilt to withstand earthquakes.

“More and more people are finding more and more problems with their homes,” Brinegar said. “During the four years that I’ve been mayor, we’ve experienced two hurricanes and earthquakes and a tornado up here. So we are right in the middle of hazard central. And everything is being built to those codes to make sure that our folks and our citizens are up to code.”  

The area is now known as the number one spot on the East Coast for earthquakes and aftershocks. Although it happened one year ago some neighbors say they still have anxiety and remain on high alert. They rely on the unity of the community and faith to get them by.

“I just want to give all the glory to God for keeping everybody safe in this county it could have been a lot worse so God gets all the praise,” Jones said.

More than 330 aftershock earthquakes have been felt since the big one hit last year. The county is working with state leaders to get more funding and complete all repairs within the next two years.

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