GEMA, FEMA address disaster aid
by Staff Report
Feb 08, 2013 | 1912 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State and federal officials Thursday said the Jan. 30 severe weather in Bartow and Gordon counties failed to fall within the guidelines for disaster assistance.

In a conference call, Georgia Emergency Management Agency Public Affairs Director Ken Davis said the damage from the tornado that left one dead did not push the limits of area and state abilities.

“One of the key factors in the local and state governments coming to a determination to request a federal declaration, disaster declaration, from [Federal Emergency Management Agency] is whether both our local and state capabilities have been exhausted or exceeded,” he said. “In this case, that hasn’t happened. Now there is a tremendous movement afoot among our local governments, state agencies, volunteer groups, churches. The faith-based communities have really turned out in this particular instance to provide assistance to the survivors that are in need.”

Although funding may not be coming from FEMA, Davis did sound hopeful about the prospect of aid from the Small Business Adminstration.

“I want to also mention that, while this disaster has not risen to the level of us being able to request and receive a declaration of that magnitude, we have requested and are awaiting a determination and we feel will soon be hearing in the affirmative that the Small Business Administration disaster declaration will [make those] ... low-interest loans available to homeowners and business owners.”

Bartow County EMA Director and Fire Chief Craig Millsap said estimates showed 472 homes received some type damages and, at last count, 30 businesses were affected.

FEMA External Affairs Officer Mary Hudak said while the agency is available, local and state resources have handled the situation.

“The emergency management system really flows from the local to the state to the feds,” she said. “... It’s really the circumstance we have in north Georgia is within the capacity of the state and local and private resources, which could be insurance, volunteer organizations and others.

“FEMA stands ready to either provide technical advice or consider any requests GEMA might make, but they have a very strong emergency management system. Quite honestly, it’s working as it should be with the state coordinating that aid directly with the local authorities, volunteer agencies providing the assistance and the private resources, like insurance and others, filling in as well.”

With the weather turning rainy and colder Thursday, Ruden Brown, public affairs officer for the American Red Cross, urged those needing assistance with housing to contact the agency’s call center.

Residents who cannot live in their homes are urged to call to set up an appointment to meet with a caseworker or to simply drop by a Red Cross center. Residents whose damaged homes are livable but have other disaster-caused needs are asked to call and arrange to speak with a Red Cross caseworker.

The Red Cross Call Center can be reached from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 404-870-4440.

Red Cross Shelter/Casework Center locations are:

• Bartow County: Manning Mill Youth Center

163-B Manning Mill Road

Adairsville, GA 30103

• Gordon County: Sonoraville Recreation Center

7494 Fairmount Highway

Calhoun, GA 30701

The Casework Center is open noon to 7 p.m. daily until further notice for families with emergency needs resulting from significant storm damage to their homes to gain personal assistance from a Red Cross caseworker by appointment or on a first-come, first-served basis.

Through Thursday afternoon, Brown said the organization provided 90 overnight stays and more than 1,500 meals.

A large volunteer push is expected again this weekend.

Speaking at the Adairsville Eggs and Issues Breakfast, Adairsville Church of God Pastor Ken Coomer said volunteers will work to finish the cleanup process.

“Saturday is the next big push,” he said. “At this time we have 700 students supposed to come out from Berry, Shorter, Lee and Kennesaw. Last week, we anticipated 800, we wound up with 1,600, so this week we’re anticipating 1,000.

“It’s absolutely fantastic what is going on. We hope to finish every piece of debris, every swing set — everything.”

The church, located at 297 Old Dixie Highway N.W., Adairsville, 770-773-3264, and NorthPointe Church, 30 Orchard Road, Adairsville, 770-387-8135, have been at the forefront of the volunteer effort.

“We hope to finish cleanup this weekend, then we will focus efforts on rebuilding houses. We’ve got a truckload of shingles coming today,” Coomer said. “We got a list yesterday of insured and uninsured homes in the community. I haven’t done an exact count, but probably 50 percent of the homes in our town are uninsured. We have a list of things we need to rebuild these folks homes and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to rebuild, we’re not going to have them sleeping on the streets — we’re going to make a difference in their lives.”

According to an email from Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr., the city of Adairsville needs to borrow two forklifts. A list of reconstruction needs also was distributed and included numerous housing and building materials.

To assist, call Coomer at 770-773-3264.

United Way of Bartow County, 770-386-1677, previously established a tornado relief fund following the April 2011 tornado. The agency is accepting monetary contributions, which will go directly to Adairsville tornado victims who qualify, at The Daily Tribune News, 251 S. Tennessee St., Cartersville, and WBHF Community Radio, 7 N. Wall St., Cartersville, or any Century Bank location. Make checks payable to United Way Disaster Relief Fund. Contributions also can be made at North Bartow Community Services by calling 770-773-3812 or emailing nbcs@bellsouth.net.

In addition to United Way, Century Bank of Georgia has partnered with the American Red Cross.

Those wanting to assist can donate cash or a check to the recovery account of their choice by visiting any Century Bank of Georgia location. The Cartersville office is located at 122 E. Main St., Cartersville; the Calhoun branch is located at 415 W. Belmont Drive, Calhoun; and the Rockmart branch is located at 1201 Nathan Dean Parkway, Rockmart. For those who are not able to come by the bank during business hours, donations can be dropped off in the secure night deposit at any location.

For those in agriculture, the Farm Service Agency has been approved to begin taking applications, under the Emergency Conservation Program, from producers in Bartow and Gordon counties that suffered qualifying losses in the Jan. 30 tornado.

The agency has two practices available to provide assistance — debris removal and restoring permanent fencing. The debris must be scattered across cropland and/or pasture and hay land, and consist of trees and construction debris.

If permanent fencing was damaged or destroyed, the Farm Service Agency can assist with cost shares to restore this fencing. Due to this program not being considered an entitlement program, recipients must have at least $2,000 in qualifying damage to be eligible. Sign-up will begin on Feb. 18 and end on Friday, March 15.

For more information, interested producers can visit the office at 717 S. Wall St. in Calhoun or call 706-629-2582.

A benefit concert will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 23 at Adairsville Travel Plaza, 7746 Highway 140; performing will be Barbwire, France Mooney & Fontanna Sunset, East Dixie Boys, Old Mill Road and Cherokee Cut Ups. For more information, call 678-246-8276.