Although the damage from Wednesday's earthquake has been estimated at $2 billion, many in Seattle and western Washington feel rather lucky. The 6.8-magnitude quake has been linked to only one death (a heart attack), and the physical damage could have been considerably worse. Experts attribute the relatively moderate damage to the fact that the quake began 30 miles underground and to the retrofit measures taken since the mid-1980s to brace area roads, bridges, and buildings. Still, a number of counties in western Washington have been declared federal disaster areas making available federal funds and loans for uninsured losses, emergency housing, and to repair public facilities. While some people remain hospitalized, for the most part Seattle has returned to daily business, with most schools and highways open. The clean-up and repairs, however, will likely take several weeks.
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