A magnitude-5.8 earthquake Aug. 23 caused an estimated $15 million damage to residential properties, and most of the losses were not insured, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The state had planned to provide assistance -- including financial help -- to residential and commercial property owners and renters, through its Individual Assistance program, the newspaper reported.
"Disaster relief and public safety are core functions of the federal government," McDonnell, a Republican, said in a statement.
He said federal assistance "is necessary in ensuring that affected Virginians are able to get their homes back in working order and get back on their feet again."
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, issued a statement critical of the FEMA decision.
"If damage from a once-in-a-generation, 5.8-magnitude earthquake does not qualify for federal disaster relief, then I don't know what does," Warner said.