'We need your help:' Alleghany county residents file 525 reports of damage following 5.1 magnitude earthquake

SPARTA, N.C. (WTVD) -- Alleghany County and Sparta officials asked for state and federal assistance as they continue to assess and clean the damage from the 5.1 magnitude earthquake earlier this month.

In a news conference Tuesday, Alleghany County Emergency Management Coordinator Daniel Roten said the county had received 525 reports of damage--some of which were very minor, but 60 of which had been evaluated as "major," meaning the buildings had lost at least 40 percent of their value.

Roten said some buildings in the county's school system had sustained damage, but that the district and county were making plans to assist students, staff and teachers affected by the earthquake.

Roten also said the Red Cross is currently housing 19 people from 10 families.

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Sparta Mayor Wes Brinegar said many families in the county need financial assistance because many do not have specific earthquake insurance policies.

"We need your help," Brinegar said. "The elderly population here in our community cannot afford to fix their homes because insurance is not going to cover it. Don't forget about Sparta and Alleghany County."

Both Brinegar and Alleghany County Chairperson Bill Osman stressed the need for both state and federal aid to help the community rebuild, and asked for both state legislators and North Carolina congressional representatives to assist in bringing disaster relief funds to the area.

Brinegar also urged Alleghany County and Sparta residents to call local officials if they have yet to report damage to their homes and businesses.

"If you haven't had your property checked out, call it in," Brinegar said.

Brinegar also advised residents not to fall for online on in-person scams plaguing the community. He said neither the Town of Sparta nor Alleghany County were affiliated with any GoFundMe pages, and any that residents may see on Facebook are fake.

"Do not donate to someone that you don't know," Brinegar said.

He also warned about a construction scam in which people claiming to be contractors offer to fix damages, but after they are paid up front, never return to complete the job.

"Do not get cheated out of your money," Brinegar said.

Brinegar recommended anyone who wishes to help should donate to the American Red Cross and indicate that they would like the funds to be allocated to the NC Alleghany County Earthquake.

"This is real. This is real America," Brinegar said. "We may be small, but we have a big heart. So my plea goes out, help us if you can, and keep us in your thoughts and prayers."
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