Richmond County's agreement with Chatham County allows them to shelter evacuees -- for a price

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Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Hurricane Dorian is still moving slowly towards the southeastern coast, weakening along the way. (Source: WRDW)

RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Richmond County entered an agreement with Chatham County to shelter evacuees 21 years ago. It took 17 years before Hurricane Matthew forced that to happen.

This is now the third time in just four years a hurricane has forced them to flee here.

Augusta-Richmond County Board of Education and Augusta Emergency Management System made an agreement to shelter Chatham County's evacuees.

In return, Chatham County pays Richmond County for its services.

Nearly 4,000 people from Chatham fled Hurricane Matthew in 2016. A year later, 3,000 left because of Hurricane Irma.

With Dorian, the tune is exactly the same.

The two counties made the agreement more than two decades ago.

Its official name -- Host County Evacuation and Sheltering Coordination Plan -- was designed to help evacuees with no other shelter options.

Richmond County schools house the evacuees. Evacuees filled eight schools during Matthew and six with Irma.

Richmond County schools also provide bus drivers as needed to transport evacuees to and from Chatham. The health department, DFACS, and law enforcement also provide services to the evacuees. But Richmond County's resources come at a price.

According to the agreement, Chatham County must reimburse Richmond County for employee compensation, traveling, and maintenance expenses of the employees as well as the maintenance on any equipment used.

Mutual aid agreements like the one between Richmond and Chatham County are encouraged under Georgia law.

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