Shades of Katrina: A frustrated Sam Olens wonders if Washington knows how badly metro Atlanta is hurting

Updated at 1:45 p.m. Thursday: President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for Cobb, Douglas, Paulding and Cherokee counties.

Original post:

A frustrated Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens said Thursday that, after a morning conversation with the chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, that he’s not sure that Washington is aware of the extent of damage caused by days of flooding in metro Atlanta.

Olens said the entire region growing impatient waiting for President Barack Obama to sign a declaration of emergency that would unleash federal resources for the area.

“It’s fair to say that we’re very frustrated. 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 he had a “cordial” and “productive” conversation with Napolitano’s chief of staff, Jan Lescher. But he’s not sure that news of metro Atlanta’s plight is getting through.

“When I discussed today the fact that Douglas and Paulding [counties] had boil advisories for days, and that Cobb is assisting Douglas today with both water buffaloes and bottled water – I was clearly given the impression that they were not aware of the full extent of the damage,” Olens said.

The Republican commission chairman said Lescher told him that Homeland Security had sent a draft of the declaration to the White House. Obama’s signature is expected today.

Olens also said that Vice President Joe Biden may arrive in Atlanta on Friday to tour the area, but that the trip is not certain. “To the extent that he wanted to fly in to see the damage, I wish he would have done it two days ago, when the water was still over the second floor of people’s houses, rather than now – when Sweetwater Creek has subsided,” Olens said.

Olens said the unusual nature of the flood merits quicker attention from Washington. “This was not a 100 or 200-year rain incident. This was an historic flood,” he said. “You have folks that have lost everything. The majority of the damage is not in flood plain areas. It’s in areas that never before witnessed the flooding. By definition, these folks have no option. They don’t have flood insurance, they’re homeowners policies are not going to cover flooding. I’d like to have some clear direction on how we move forward.”

Summed up Olens: “Cobb’s a big county. Cobb has a lot of resources. But Douglas and Paulding – they needed this help days ago.”

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152 comments Add your comment

DAVID

September 24th, 2009
12:42 pm

Who is the tired, old Media blaming for this delay……..Not Obama…no…no…no

Bubba

September 24th, 2009
12:44 pm

No surprise here. Georgia didn’t vote for them. Why should Democrats lift a finger to help those who didn’t help put them in office?

Edwin Bell

September 24th, 2009
12:44 pm

Chairman Olens, your candor and leadership will be sorely missed in Cobb County. I appreciate your efforts to help those who have lost everything; both in Cobb AND other counties in our region. Thank you!

BW

September 24th, 2009
12:46 pm

I thought Republicans didn’t want the government interference….pick yourselves up by the bootstraps

Chef montuer

September 24th, 2009
12:46 pm

THERE WOULB BE NO DELAY IF THIS WAS NEW ORLEANS YOU CAN BET ON THAT!

Johnny Bruce

September 24th, 2009
12:47 pm

Can you belive it a good Cobb County Republican wanting help from the Goverment.

ZT

September 24th, 2009
12:50 pm

Enter your comments here
It is amazing that those who have been the most critical of President Obama and his administration are now standing with their hands outstretched for help and don’t even recognize the irony themselves. Of course, the people suffering shouldn’t be punished for the nastiness of their leaders but the politicians should be made to get on their knees and beg.

Hotlanta

September 24th, 2009
12:50 pm

It is just funny how some of these same folks complain about how the government is getting involved in everything such as insurance and our everyday lives but are waiting on the GOVERNMENT to bail them out of this mess. I am waiting on a sign that says OBAMA we don’t need you.

Repub

September 24th, 2009
12:52 pm

Yes! We’ve paid in a ton of money – let’s have some of it back.

JPW

September 24th, 2009
12:54 pm

Explain to me again why people would trust our health care to the federal government after reading this story?

VOICE OF REASON

September 24th, 2009
12:54 pm

A GOP commissioner in georgia wants a hand out from communist Obama?

Spoonky

September 24th, 2009
12:55 pm

Unlike Katrina, people are not stranded on rooftops, cramped in a football arena, or trapped in a city with no escape or immediate help or response, so you CANNOT compare the 2. I refuse to fall for the divisive race baiting tactics that some Republicans are attempting to use in this situation.But for arguments sake, let’s say that they were accurate – The shoe doesn’t feel good when it’s on the other foot does it?

Good Grief

September 24th, 2009
12:56 pm

Oooohhhhhh….so nowwww they want his help? That’s interesting. They dont want the gov’t to spend tax money to help folks with health care problems but when a flood knocks out a few material things then the gov’t should quickly step in and “help out”. Yeah, President Obama, you just take your time signing whatever needs to be signed and fix America its just a tiny percent, microscopic, that needs any help.

emack06

September 24th, 2009
12:59 pm

Wow…the same neocons/rethugans who criticize President Obama for the so-call bloated deficit, stimulus package, and big government, now are whimpering and whining about not getting federal help. The same people who touts how incompetent the Feds are, now are looking to the Feds for help. Why doesn’t Sunny Perdue release some funds from the state coffers or sell one of his properties to help the flood victims?

Chef montuer

September 24th, 2009
1:00 pm

NO WE Are just sick of all are tax money going to NOLA and they dont do a damn thing with except
complain for more

Easy as pie...

September 24th, 2009
1:00 pm

This isn’t particularly hard.

The federal government is supposed to assist in this kind of disaster – the entire purpose of the federal government is to provide assistance in times of war, acts of “God”, etc.

Healthcare, TARP, stimulus are not federal responsibilities. A Republican asking the federal government to stop focusing on its non-constitutional duties (healthcare, BCS football and baseball hearings, etc.) and focus on its constitutional duties is neither hypocritical or ironic.

Ray B

September 24th, 2009
1:00 pm

Interesting to compare the media response to the Bush administration after Katrina compared with the media response now. Oh right, I forgot, everything was Bush’s fault and Obama can do no wrong.

CJ

September 24th, 2009
1:03 pm

Oh look! A Republican only wanting a hand-out when it affects them! Surprise, surprise!

Cobb Taxpayer

September 24th, 2009
1:03 pm

Sam ain’t the man ! He has his own issues right in Cobb – Governor Perdue should be leading the charge for help form Washington along with Isakson and Saxby – almost forgot WHO was running for statewide offices next – good ole Sam !

George

September 24th, 2009
1:04 pm

Come on people, nearly half of Georgia IS Democrat. Surely Obama’s lack of response to this crisis is not related to the fact that he failed to carry the state last November. There is politics and there’s doing what’s right, and it is incumbent upon the President to carry on in a apolitical manner during times like this. Let’s hope he is not that petty………I do think it is odd that this story of a lack of response from Washington is being put under the heading of political commentary. This is a front page story. Period.

You are all idiots

September 24th, 2009
1:04 pm

the funny thing is, if Georgia got all of the money they sent to the federal government in taxes isntead of like 98% of it, they could pay for it themselves. The system breeds dependence on federal help because they take all the money the states would have had anyway.

This is proof that Bush wasn’t racist for not helping New Orleans. It is proof that government, whether Dem or Rep, is a completely and utter failure. They cannot get anything done quickly or efficiently. LEARN THIS LESSON, PEOPLE!

k

September 24th, 2009
1:05 pm

JZ you are an idiot! Requesting federal aid in the aftermath of a major natural disaster and voicing opions about a President who’s policies you don’t agree with have nothing to do with one another. Suggesting that the “politicians should have to get down on thier knees and beg” is truly assinine and mean spritied. Instead of being a jerk why don’t you try to show some sympathy and class. Also I thought compassion for your fellow man was a Democratic concept. Guess you missed that particular party message.

KCChiefinATL

September 24th, 2009
1:06 pm

“Shades of Katrina” blasts the headline. Let’s see, is that not a bit over the top? It’s been 3 days!!! What did they want a check on Tuesday??? Before a cost can be set, the water has to go away!

I too agree with the irony of the situation. So much criticism of the Obama administration, but yet, now it’s the cry of “where’s my money”.

To compare this to Katrina is just over the top!!

k

September 24th, 2009
1:07 pm

Oooohhhhhh….so nowwww they want his help? That’s interesting. They dont want the gov’t to spend tax money to help folks with health care problems but when a flood knocks out a few material things then the gov’t should quickly step in and “help out”.

A few material things tell that the the nine families making funeral arrangements for loved ones!

Cutty

September 24th, 2009
1:07 pm

Chef Montuer, you are a class act. NOLA and the state of LA supply this country with more natural gas than any state in the union. Hell, there are gas pipelines running all the way from NOLA to Atlanta. get your facts straight first.

And why would a republican want this socialist bailout from the government? What happened to liberty and freedom? Oh…. That went out the window when they need help for three counties that got some water. go figure.

AL

September 24th, 2009
1:08 pm

I am curious if any of the people complaining that help is being requested experienced any loss themselves. Its really easy to be critical and say that the president should take his sweet time and that polticians should beg for the help when they are sitting at home with no water damage and aren’t some of us that need the help the most. If the president wants to waste taxpayer money on a healthcare program we don’t want then at the very least he should be willing to part with our money when we do need it.

Josey and the Kittycats

September 24th, 2009
1:09 pm

Easy as Pie took the words right out of my mouth.

CGay, go away.

Bert

September 24th, 2009
1:09 pm

“They dont want the gov’t to spend tax money to help folks with health care problems …”
That’s not even remotely accurate, Good Grief. The current administration wants to throw out the entire health care system, and are using those who are tragically caught in the gears as an excuse. It’s not the same thing, at all. As a conservative with no entrenched political affiliation, I have no problem with helping those facing unforeseen catastrophic loss of money or resources—either with health care or events like the recent flooding. I do, however, have a problem with completely gutting an entire industry for what amounts to nothing more than a power grab.

findog

September 24th, 2009
1:10 pm

we need to slow down the process to make sure its done right

larry

September 24th, 2009
1:11 pm

As Kanye West would say, “Obama doesn’t like white people”…oh, wait, Obama’s mother is white…hhhmm, he must not like GOPers or Blue Dog Dems.

Chris

September 24th, 2009
1:11 pm

This is racist! Obama just does not want to help out the white people. If this happened in Harlem, NY, they would be fine by now. How stupid does that sound? That is exactly what the thugs said about Bush when Katrina hit.

romyoh

September 24th, 2009
1:11 pm

Agree with Bubba. Payback’s a bitch. No big rush to help out all these Republican naysayers. I thought you didn’t believe in big government.

Tired of the bull

September 24th, 2009
1:12 pm

It’s not Obama that is needed, it is all the money that Georgian’s have paid in taxes towards relief funds that is needed back in Georgia now. The problem here stems from allowing the President to have the say so on who receives it and who doesn’t. Democrat or Republican party in the White House, wasn’t such a good move was it.

JW

September 24th, 2009
1:12 pm

It’s ironic to me that those who claim to have such big hearts for helping the poor and needy are so stuck on the “issues” that they will encourage slowing down assistance for those truly in need. These people are more focused on winning a competition over difference in opinion than truly helping those in need. If there are funds available for disasters of this nature and proportion, then why shouldn’t we ask for it…regardless of political party affiliation? And what in the hell does that have to do with implementing a national health care system that may or may not be mandatory (nobody seems to know the real truth)? NOTHING!

Cutty

September 24th, 2009
1:13 pm

Obama’s response will still be light years faster than the Bush administration during Katria. A REAL historic flood. This was some rain that flooded creeks. And as you saw on the news, a good portion of the flooded houses were brand new. Wonder if all the development in those three counties (cutting down trees and other natural buffers for creeks and rivers) had anything to do with the excessive damage.

Lewis

September 24th, 2009
1:13 pm

What happened to smaller government? We want freedom? We want Washington to stay out of our affairs? The same people who said that those from New Orleans should pick themselves up by the bootstrap? Wow, I live in Atlanta myself, so I understand what’s going on. What I can’t understand: The irony.

Josey and the Kittycats

September 24th, 2009
1:13 pm

larry

September 24th, 2009
1:11 pm

OBOZO called himself BLACK just the other night on LETTERMAN.

Josey and the Kittycats

September 24th, 2009
1:15 pm

Cutty

September 24th, 2009
1:13 pm

That’s like saying New Orleans deserved what they got because they have built below sea level.

Grow up putz.

Chef montuer

September 24th, 2009
1:16 pm

I”M not a republican but I know Obama Would have takien his tour over Nola yesterday if this same size flood had happened there instead of here. YOU all Know IT too.

Get Real

September 24th, 2009
1:17 pm

Georgia receives more in federal aid each year than they pay in taxes. Just as most other states in the south do. Those liberal, pinko states in the northeast pay more than they receive however. Go figure.

emack06

September 24th, 2009
1:19 pm

Oh please “Easy as pie…” spare us your spin. The preamble of the constitution refutes your argument.

“We the People of the United States, …ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,…”

Healthcare, TARP and the stimulus package helps to promote the “general welfare” of the u.s. citizens by helping to stablize our economy.

Chris

September 24th, 2009
1:19 pm

Cutty, you are a moron. Katrina is the best thing that happened to New Orleans. That city needed and needs to be cleaned up! The thugs down there had plenty of notice and had time to get out. They were even offering free transportation.

Josey and the Kittycats

September 24th, 2009
1:19 pm

Chef montuer

September 24th, 2009
1:16 pm

His “Peeps” are in New Orleans… of course he would have been there in a heartbeat.

JW

September 24th, 2009
1:20 pm

Cutty is an idiot – “some rain that flooded creeks”. Are you kidding? People DIED because of the rushing water. Imagine a rushing river running through your living room, moving your car 100 yards down the road and taking every valuable possession you own – a little more powerful than “some rain” I would say. You need to take a good hard look at why you stand for the things you do because it’s apparent to me there is a huge disconnect between your heart and brain.

bugsbunny

September 24th, 2009
1:20 pm

Obama knows exactly what is going on down here, we will suffer for being conservative republicans. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Cutty

September 24th, 2009
1:20 pm

Josey and the P*ssy, calm down little girl. Nothing more than a FACT I presented. You can’t have all this sprawling development and expect it not to affect the natural landscape in which we live. Ask any developer, planner or landscape architect dummy.

Shannon

September 24th, 2009
1:21 pm

This REPUBLICAN wants Nothing from Obama!!! We have taken care of ourselves in the past and we WILL do it again.

We have a lot of people affected by the flood. It is time to pull together and help eachother just the way people did during Barn Raising days. Let’s take care of eachother, the Government doesn’t care and we shouldn’t ask IT for help.

Josey and the Kittycats

September 24th, 2009
1:22 pm

emack06

September 24th, 2009
1:19 pm

Healthcare, TARP and the stimulus package helps to promote the “general welfare” of the u.s. citizens by helping to stablize our economy.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!! Now that statement is HIGHLY debatable. Thanks for the laugh, limpwrist.

Lewis

September 24th, 2009
1:22 pm

It’s not that we are happy about devastation to your property and family. It is that perhaps it’s good when the shoe is on the other foot – because then you gain understanding. I only wonder if you would say the same thing – that the federal government should do something – if the area in question this time around was… New Orleans. Did you believe that it was OK for the federal government to assist in New Orleans?

And to Josey… Here’s a thought: It’s white America that considers anyone of mixed (white/black) race to be black. I figured this out the other day when I went to apply for a social security card for my black/white son. As I recall, you could choose white/black/hispanic (1 choice). I did not mark anything because I wanted to know what the attendant was going to mark. Would you like to know what she marked after I told her that my son was of mixed race?

k

September 24th, 2009
1:22 pm

For those Demidiots posting on this board right now. Did you even look at then news coverage. The areas hardest hit in Cobb county were not exactly the hotbeds of conservatism. You are showing just how mean spirited and frankly stupid you are. Linking this to any other politacal issues is just plain “crazy”.

Nine people in GA lost thier lives including a 2 year old little boy. Thousands are now homeless and without resources to rebuild their lives. For those of you that think that this should be turned into a little bit of politcal “tit for tat” I just hope you never find yourselves in this same situation becasue Karma’s a BI***.