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Gov. Roy Cooper visits Sparta homes, businesses to assess earthquake damage

The governor visited the epicenter of the 5.1 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.

SPARTA, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper visited homes and businesses in Sparta on Tuesday to see the damage brought on by Sunday's 5.1 magnitude earthquake.

Alleghany County Sheriff's Office said as of Tuesday, 175 buildings were damaged in the quake, including the county's administration building. Emergency management officials said between 15 and 25 homes are unlivable. 

County leaders issued a state of emergency and contacted White House officials to seek possible federal aid.

"In a county this small, a number of people hurt are affected by debts they already owe and mortgages, so we want to try to provide as much help as we possibly can," Gov. Cooper said after the tour of Sparta. 

"We have an elderly population here in our county, these folks are not going to be able to pay out of their pockets to fix their homes," Sparta Mayor Wes Brinegar told the governor. "We need help badly, these people don't have insurance," Sheriff Bryan Maines added.

He said the county will likely get federal or state assistance.

"We're going to do everything we can that's for sure."

Several officials said it is very important that residents report damage. Getting the help they need depends on it.

The Red Cross is helping one child and eight adults who were displaced from six homes that were damaged.

The earthquake was the biggest the state has seen in more than 100 years. A 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit near Asheville back in 1916. 

Cooper said it's been a tough week for North Carolina, to say the least.

"We’ve dealt with a hurricane, a violent tornado, and now an earthquake all in the middle of a pandemic," he stated. "North Carolinians are resilient."