President Barack Obama has issued a federal disaster declaration for Carroll, Cobb, Paulding, Douglas and Cherokee counties in the wake of this week’s devastating floods, Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office has announced.
Perdue had asked Obama to declare an emergency in 17 Georgia counties and the governor said the request covering the other counties is still pending.
“The recovery is just now beginning,” Perdue said in a statement. “We have a great deal of work to do and I appreciate President Obama’s approval of the disaster declaration. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration will also be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.”
The five counties in the declaration suffered some of the most devastating losses in the floods that killed nine people and cost more than $250 million in estimated damages.
Perdue made his initial request for a presidential declaration of an emergency on Tuesday and some local officials are beginning to question the delay in approval. Cobb County Commission chairman Sam Olens, a Republican candidate for attorney general, said earlier Thursday that he isn’t sure Washington understands the extent of the damage in Georgia.
“It’s fair to say that we’re very frustrated,” Olens told Jim Galloway, for the AJC’s Political Insider blog. “The storm started Sunday, with the real wrath Monday, and we frankly were thinking the presidential order would be signed Tuesday night,” Olens said. “Yesterday we were told that Cobb County had sufficient damage to merit the declaration – but the bureaucratic process seems to take too much time, while people are hurting.”
Olens said Vice President Joe Biden could visit the area on Friday. After Perdue’s announcement Thursday, Olens said in an e-mail that the disaster declaration frees up assistance for individuals, but does not include public assistance money for infrastructure repairs.
Residents and business owners in the four counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at FEMA’s Web site or by calling 1-800-621 FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7575 (TYY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
The declaration for the five counties will make individual assistance available for residents.