Georgia Asks President Bush for Expedited Major Disaster Declaration
|Friday, September 17, 2004||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
ATLANTA - Governor Sonny Perdue today asked President Bush for an expedited major disaster declaration. If approved, every eligible Georgian impacted by Hurricane Ivan will receive federal assistance.
"Hurricane Ivan has resulted in significant personal loss for Georgians around the state," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "Local governments are assessing public infrastructure damage and they are being assisted by teams from FEMA and GEMA."
Georgia is requesting 100 percent direct federal assistance, debris removal, and emergency protective measures for the first 72 hours, as well as implementation of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the entire state. The fourteen Georgia counties designated for individual assistance at this time are Carroll, Cherokee, Cobb, Dawson, DeKalb, Early, Franklin, Fulton, Gilmer, Madison, Rabun, Towns, Union, and White counties. Assessments are ongoing for additional counties.
This assistance is requested as GEMA and other emergency management officials cautiously watch projected tracts, which indicate Tropical Storm Ivan, may head back through North Georgia and as Tropical Storm Jeanne treks toward the Southeastern coast.
"We are hopeful that our request will be quickly and favorably evaluated and approved," said Governor Perdue.
If and when this request is approved, FEMA will make a toll-free number available for Georgians to call and register for assistance. Governor Perdue's letter to President Bush is attached below. For additional information on storm damage and assistance, visit www.gema.state.ga.us.
Dear Mr. President:
Under the provisions of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288, as amended by Public Law 100-707, as implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I request that you declare an expedited Major Declaration for the State of Georgia as a result of the direct effects of the impacts of Hurricane Ivan. Since September 1, 2004 , the State has been in a continuous activation mode from Hurricane Frances and continuing with Hurricane Ivan. These events have produced, and are expected to produce significant damages associated with high winds, torrential rainfalls, tornadoes, landslides and inland flooding. This request is for 100% direct federal assistance, debris removal and emergency protective measures (Category A and B) for the first 72 hours, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the entire State of Georgia . In addition to this, we are requesting Public Assistance for Categories (A-G) for the fourteen counties impacted by Hurricane Ivan, some of which were also severely impacted by Hurricane Frances . These counties include: Carroll, Cherokee, Cobb, Dawson , DeKalb, Early, Franklin , Fulton , Gilmer, Madison , Rabun, Towns, Union , and White Counties .
We are also asking for the Individual Assistance Program for these same counties impacted by severe flooding and tornadoes from Hurricane Ivan. I am asking for the full compliment of Individual Assistance Programs to include the Individual and Households Program, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Legal Services, and the Small Business Administration Disaster Loans Program.
Hurricane Ivan caused significant flooding and widespread power outages with nearly a quarter of a million people without power in the metro Atlanta area alone. Torrential downpours and tropical storm force winds impacted much of the metro Atlanta area, where the damages were significant. The storm was blamed for four deaths, including a 6-year-old swept from a mobile home park by floodwaters.
Record flood levels have been measured on Peachtree Creek, forcing many residents from their homes. According to the National Weather Service, Peachtree Creek is cresting at 22.7 feet, which is 1.5 feet higher than the flood of record. In addition, the Chattahoochee River at Vinings is expected to crest today at 22.5 feet, the highest since 1990. Emergency personnel have rescued many stranded motorists and property owners from the floodwaters.
The National Weather Service is also reporting major flooding along the Etowah River near Dawsonville, where a crest of 18 feet is expected, 9 feet above flood stage. Downstream of the Etowah River , Cherokee County officials expect the river to crest at Canton at 21 feet, 6 feet above flood stage. With the chance of more rain in the forecast, and the expected track of Hurricane Ivan to return to Georgia in the next few days, and the expected track of Hurricane Jeanne to bring additional heavy winds and torrential rainfall to Georgia, additional flooding along the State's swollen rivers is expected to continue. The National Weather Service expects there will probably be another flood crest on many of the State's northern rivers. There could also be a chance of prolonged flooding depending on how much additional rain is received in the next few days in the upper river basins of Georgia .
Much of the eastern half of the State received tropical storm force winds and a peak wind gust was of 53 MPH was recorded at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport . Much of the State is still under a wind advisory this morning for gusts up to 35 mph.
Many of the areas impacted by the flooding caused by Hurricane Ivan have previously been impacted by other floods. Many homes in the Jackson Square condominiums in DeKalb County received up to 5 feet of floodwaters. This is the third time in the past two years this area has been significantly impacted by flooding. The flooding would have been worse, except for the completed buyouts by DeKalb County in the Drew Valley area. Local government officials in Cobb County also report that the completed acquisitions in their county also reduced the number of property owners impacted by the flooding.
The State Emergency Operations Center is currently activated at Level 1. On September 15, 2004 , I issued an Executive Order (enclosed) extending the existing state of emergency. Multiple counties have initiated protective actions, and several have activated their Emergency Operations Centers, and issued local states of emergency.
I have determined, pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.35, that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response and recovery actions are beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplemental federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. The impacts of Hurricane Frances and the already strained state budget is further exacerbated by these ongoing tropical weather systems.
I certify that for this major disaster, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.
In accordance with 44 CFR § 206.208, the State of Georgia agrees that it will, with respect to direct Federal assistance:
- Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements and rights-of-ways necessary to accomplish the approved work;
- Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and shall indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work;
- Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-Federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and
- Assist the performing Federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.
In addition, I anticipate the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health, and safety.
Pursuant to Sections 403 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5170b & 5173, the State agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster. The State agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.
I have designated Mike Sherberger as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessment and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.