FEMA and GEMA assess storm damage in Columbia County

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News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Columbia County, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's quickly becoming a broken record.

"A lot of limbs and a lot of damage in the back yard, part of my fence is damaged," said Bill Payne who's still cleaning up damage from last weeks ice storm.

And those piles of debris you see driving, are starting to seem like the norm in front yards.

"This is the worst thing I've seen since I've been living here for 23 years," he said.

It's the same all over, exactly why Payne says it's time for a little help.

"Any assistance would be nice because it costs a lot of money to have this work done," said Payne.

Columbia County officials couldn't agree more.

"The cost of cleaning up the debris," said Pam Tucker with Columbia County EMA.

The number could be big but in order to get federal assistance for Columbia County, the damage would have total more than 434,000 dollars.

"The debris removal, the monitoring of the debris removal, the salaries, the overtime, the equipment cost, the per hour usage of all the heavy equipment, the fuel for the generators, the vehicles, supplies, salt, sand," said Tucker.

For the state of Georgia, there would need to be 13.7 million bucks in total damage for federal help to come.

If reached, Tucker says, "That means we don't have to spend taxpayer money, that means that is money that will come from the federal government to pay all these costs."

The problem is, if the state doesn't reach that goal, Columbia County doesn't get anything. That means more of your tax money spent cleaning up the damage.

"Anytime we can save tax money, that benefits every citizen in the county," said Tucker.

It's less money, Payne will have to fork out, even though he's already spent an arm and leg doing most of the cleanup himself.

"Got it out here quickly to have it removed, ready for Wednesday but it still could be another month and a half before it's out here," said Payne.

It's patience that Payne will have to practice now, until help comes from above.