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An earthquake shook Sparta's foundation, but the town stands strong in recovery

The town of 1,600 people is still shaken by the 5.1 magnitude earthquake that damaged more than 500 buildings in August.

SPARTA, N.C. — Months after a 5.1 earthquake rattled the town of Sparta, its residents are still recovering.

One of the 533 buildings damaged by the Aug. 9 earthquake was Ronnie and Diane Norris's home. The damage was too severe to remain in the house. On Wednesday, the couple watched demolition crews tear down 31 years of memories.

"To see it destroyed in just a few minutes, that was the frustrating part for me," Diane said.

"I done grew up in that house. It's just hard to see it go." Ronnie said, "It's sad."

The Norris's home is one of four to be completely demolished due to damage sustained during one of last year's earthquakes in Sparta. WFMY News 2's meteorologists tracked more than 60 events of seismic activity there during the last 7 months.

The 5.1 magnitude quake was felt as far south as Charlotte and caught the attention of Raleigh. Gov. Roy Cooper visited Sparta and assigned $24 million in relief aid to the town in early September.

"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.

Despite a slight delay in the arrival of the aid, the Norris's are on track to rebuild a new home on the same property. They expect to move in this September.

"It kept us on pins and needles there for a little while," Ronnie said, "but we are so grateful to have a new home. I love Sparta. It's a lovely town."

"Now our grandchildren can make memories here," Diane said.

The remaining three homes are scheduled to be demolished later this week, weather permitting, Sparta officials said.

"Significant work remains to be completed in our area," Sparta Town Manager Ryan Wilmoth said, "but with the outpouring of support, both locally and at the state level, recovery will happen." 

An earthquake shook Sparta, but the town stood strong.


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