MINERAL, Va. -- The rare East Coast earthquake Aug. 23 left two Baptist churches near the epicenter with cracked walls and broken glass, but no major damage, said spokespersons at each congregation.
Mineral Baptist Church and Louisa Baptist Church -- each in towns of the same name about 50 miles northwest of Richmond, Va. -- were near the center of the 5.8-magnitude quake felt from South Carolina to New England. At least four aftershocks have been reported since, including one measuring 4.2.
Many buildings in the two communities were damaged, including both town halls and the Louisa County High School, where six students and at least one staff member were injured.
The nearby North Anna nuclear power plant shut down automatically when the quake hit, but no damage was reported.
Mineral Baptist was left with “some pretty big cracks in the drywall, mostly in hallways and in the sanctuary,” said Carolyn Sims, administrative assistant at the church. She said the congregation will hold its worship services this Sunday in the family life center, as repairs continue in the sanctuary.
At Louisa Baptist, the damage was “mostly minor things, nothing major,” said administrative assistant Becky Day. Broken glass was strewn throughout the church from falling picture frames, kitchenware and a large container of marbles. “Luckily the marbles fell in a contained room,” quipped Sims.
At the house of one Louisa Baptist member, the chimney fell through the roof. Sims said friends had been scurrying to cover the gaping hole before this weekend, when a Category 3 storm is expected to hit the North Carolina coast, bringing significant rain and high winds to Virginia.
Other houses of worship throughout the Mid-Atlantic region have reported damage, including the National Cathedral in Washington. Finial stones on three of the four spires of the cathedral’s central tower fell off and cracks have been found in the flying buttresses which support the oldest part of the building.