Governor Sonny Perdue today asked President Bush for an expedited major disaster declaration to assist counties and citizens with emergency responsive measures and losses resulting from the severe weather that hit the state overnight.
The request is for a broad range of assistance for the following nine Georgia counties: Baker, Clay, Crawford, McDuffie, Mitchell, Muscogee, Stewart, Sumter and Taylor counties.
This assistance is requested as the Georgia Emergency Management Agency continues to work with local officials to assess and recover from the damages caused by the storms.
For additional information on storm damage and assistance, visit >www.gema.state.ga.us.
Governor Perdue’s letter to President Bush follows:
March 2, 2007
Dear Mr. President:
Under the provisions of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I request that you declare an expedited major disaster for the State of Georgia as a result of severe weather and tornadoes, which occurred on March 1, 2007 and continuing.
The hardest hit counties affected by this severe weather include Baker, Clay, Crawford, McDuffie, Mitchell, Muscogee, Stewart, Sumter, and Taylor. These predominantly rural counties are economically distressed with a very high percentage of the population living below the poverty level. Unemployment is well above the state and national averages and a high percentage of the population is on fixed income.
The tornadoes in Georgia were spawned by a storm system that stretched from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast, according to the National Weather Service. Super-cell thunderstorms created a number of tornadoes that passed from Alabama into southwest Georgia causing at least nine deaths and an undetermined amount of injuries and damaging hundreds of homes and scores of businesses. A total of twenty-one counties have reported damages. The hardest hit areas include Baker County, where six people lost their lives and Americus, where the Regional Hospital was destroyed and another two people perished. Several counties closed schools due to the volume of debris on local roads. At the height of the storm, more than 71,000 families were without power.
In response to the situation, I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on March 1, 2007, in accordance with Section 401 of the Stafford Act. I have declared a State of Emergency on March 2, 2007, for the following counties: Baker, Clay, Crawford, McDuffie, Mitchell, Muscogee, Stewart, Sumter and Taylor.
The State of Georgia has a federally approved standard state mitigation plan. The State is in the process of updating their mitigation plan on or before April 15, 2008.
A Preliminary Damage Assessment by the State is underway and a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment has been requested to Federal Emergency Management Agency on March 2, 2007. I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary.
This request is for 100% direct federal assistance, debris removal and emergency protective measures, Category A & B for the first 72 hours. In addition, I am requesting Public Assistance for categories A-G, Individual Assistance, including the Individuals and Households Program (IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Public Assistance, and Small Business Administration disaster loans for the following counties: Baker, Clay, Crawford, McDuffie, Mitchell, Muscogee, Stewart, Sumter and Taylor. I am also requesting the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the entire State of Georgia.
The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of State and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this disaster:
- The State Operation Center has been activated and is coordinating the provision of state resources.
- The Department of Transportation has provided traffic control assistance and road clearance operations.
- The Georgia Forestry Commission has provided debris clearing assistance in Crawford, Peach, Jones, Sumter and Stewart Counties.
- The Georgia Mutual Aid Group (GMAG) has responded to requests for fire units and medical personnel in Sumter and Baker Counties.
- The American Red Cross has one open shelter in Sumter County and has closed shelters in Crawford, McDuffie and Taylor Counties.
- The Central Georgia Search and Rescue Team (Central GSAR) was deployed to Sumter County. Other search and rescue teams have conducted operations in Baker County.
- The Department of Natural Resources deployed search and rescue teams in Webster, Stewart, Baker and Sumter Counties and also provided perimeter security at damaged sites in Sumter and McDuffie Counties.
- The Georgia Civil Air Patrol and the Georgia Forestry Commission has assisted with damage assessment flights and aerial photographic missions throughout the damaged areas.
- The Department of Agriculture is conducting inspections of food products in damaged areas.
- The Georgia National Guard is providing a battalion-sized task force to provide support for local traffic control, debris removal and public floodlight sets in Sumter County.
- I certify that for this major disaster, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.
In accordance with 44 CFR § 206.208, the State of Georgia agrees that it will, with respect to direct Federal assistance:
1. Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements and rights-of-ways necessary to accomplish the approved work;
2. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and shall indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work;
3. Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-Federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and
4. Assist the performing Federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.
In addition, I anticipate the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health, and safety.
Pursuant to Sections 403 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5170b & 5173, the State agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster. The State agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.
I have designated Charley English as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessment and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.