The Central Virginian

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Looking forward

Posted on Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since we were all rocked by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, with an epicenter in the Mineral area.  To this day, everyone who felt the quake retains vivid memories of where they were, what they were doing and what they thought it was when they first heard and felt the violent temblor.

While it was felt by millions up and down the East Coast, Louisa County residents, in particular, were shell-shocked by the violent earthquake and forceful aftershocks that followed in the hours, days and months afterward.  Homes, outbuildings, businesses, schools and personal belongings were damaged or destroyed and many had trouble sleeping at night, fearing another “big one.”

There were harrowing tales of what could have happened in the schools that day if young ones had been taking a nap in a particular location in a particular school—but fortunately were relatively unscathed by the ordeal.

The students, teachers, parents and administrators  made enormous adjustments while the school year was temporarily suspended and plans could be made to determine how to accommodate students with the loss of two schools.

School officials didn’t let the quake interfere with learning for long, setting up a plan to quickly build a modular campus for Thomas Jefferson Elementary School students adjacent to Trevilians Elementary School.  On the other side of the coin, middle school pupils, teachers and office staff shared their classrooms and office space with the high school on alternating days.

If you were a middle school student or employee, you traded sleeping in on Saturdays in lieu of a full school day, while enjoying the every-other-day-instructional-schedule.

Businesses, churches and homeowners made arrangements as soon as possible to repair structures ranging from minor damage to significant.  Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were quick to mobilize to the area, assisting where possible with funding for the projects.

While it was a trying time for many, the true kindness of people showed when aid was offered by people from other communities, churches and organizations.  People everywhere cast votes so that Mineral could have a free Alan Jackson concert—and even that turned into a benefit to raise much needed funds.

Buildings and homes have been repaired or replaced, houses of worship are whole once again and students will have new schools to call their own again in the next year or two.

Construction of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is well underway and those students will have something even better than before.  A celebratory ground breaking for a new state-of-the-art high school was held yesterday evening, with plans for an August 2015 opening.

Looking back, it’s amazing what we’ve all been through together over the past two years, but even more amazing is our resiliency.  We’ve all gotten back to life “as usual” and, yes, sometimes when there is thunder in the distance or rumbling on the railroad tracks—many of us pause a moment and wonder … was that what I think it was?

Fortunately, more often than not, it isn’t and we go on with our day.  But what interesting stories we’ll be able to tell our grandchildren one day—what it was like—and how our community bonded and perfect strangers reached out to help one another.

Best of all, we can tell them how our strong, brave and resourceful community recovered and moved onward, looking forward to the future with a real appreciation of our past.