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At the earthquake epicenter in Mineral, Va.

August 23, 2011 |  6:58 pm

Earthquake in Mineral, Virginia

Though the epicenter of Tuesday’s earthquake was just outside town, Mineral, Va., has hardly been the center of attention.

Much of the focus in the aftermath of the magnitude 5.8 earthquake has been on cities such as Washington (84 miles from the epicenter) and New York (310 miles from the epicenter) and not the quiet town of about 400 people (five miles from the epicenter).

As of Tuesday evening, no deaths and only minor injuries had been reported in Louisa County, where the town is located, said Amanda Reidelbach, the county's public information officer.

PHOTOS: Earthquake hits the East Coast

One house in the town was destroyed and scores of buildings damaged, she said, but no one was inside the house when it collapsed.

Authorities conducted damage assessments into the night, typically finding damage to walls and chimneys that had crumbled.

"There's a great deal of relief that there is no substantial injuries and all the damage at this point seems to be structural to buildings," said Town Manager Willie Harper.

Harper said he had never experienced an earthquake like Tuesday's jolt.

"We had a few rumbles here and there, but nothing like this," he said. "You don’t experience that around here. At first, nobody really understood what it was. But it didn’t take long for it to settle in."

Hostess Marie Wright was inside a tasting room at Coopers Vineyard, a winery a few miles outside Mineral, when the earthquake hit.

"All of a sudden, the wine bottles started crashing down and I was screaming at the top of my lungs," Wright said. "I grabbed the vineyard dog and ran out of there."

There are cracks lining the walls and several broken pipes on the property. In the tasting room, shattered glass from broken bottles sit in puddles of the winery’s award-winning viognier.

"I have never experienced anything like that before," Wright said. "Just some tiny little tremors, nothing of this magnitude."

Charlotte Robinson, owner of Talk About Nails salon in Mineral, was doing a pedicure when the shop began to shake.

"It was horrible; I jumped in my customer's lap," Robinson said. "We didn’t know what was going on."

Despite the earthquake and its aftershocks, nobody canceled any appointments to get their nails done, Robinson said.


National Cathedral in D.C. is damaged

Quake's epicenter is near a nuclear power plant

Congressional staff mistakes earthquake for terrorist attack

-- Stephen Ceasar in Los Angeles and Richard Simon in Washington.

Photo: School board member Brian Huffman surveys the damage to Louisa County High School in Mineral, Va. Credit: Alexa Welch / Richmond Times-Dispatch