Midstate counties get relief funds for ice storm

lfabian@macon.comMarch 7, 2014 

ice_storm

Crews free a car from the grips of a couple of pine trees on Wimbish Road in last month’s ice storm. Macon was on the fringe of the freeze and did not sustain enough damage for disaster relief funds.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com Buy Photo

When a layer of ice brought down trees and power lines last month, scores of first-responders hit the road.

With shifts working around the clock, overtime hours accumulated as did costs related to debris removal.

Monroe County Emergency Management Director Matt Perry estimated storm costs to top $200,000.

In Jones County, EMA Director Don Graham expects the county’s cost to exceed $50,000.

Jones, Monroe and several other Middle Georgia communities will get federal disaster relief to offset costs.

President Barack Obama ordered aid for 39 Georgia counties impacted by a winter storm Feb. 10-14.

Baldwin, Hancock, Jasper, Johnson, Lamar and Washington counties are among those in Middle Georgia eligible for a 75 percent reimbursement for storm cleanup costs, according to a news release from Gov. Nathan Deal.

“The winter weather that overtook our state in mid-February caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage in many parts of our state,” Deal said. “The state of Georgia mobilized significant resources to ensure the safety of our citizens and our property during a time of crisis, and our costs far exceeded the federal threshold for disaster assistance.”

Deal said he appreciated the assistance from the president and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The White House announced Thursday that federal funds are available for governments and nonprofit agencies that helped with emergency work and repair.

“Thank God,” Perry said. “I’m glad we got included. With budgets as tight as they are, this reimbursement will help the taxpayers.”

Perry already expects to rack up another $50,000 to chip the debris still on the rights of way in Monroe County.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Emergency Management Agency toured Jones County the week after the storm.

Crews are still picking up debris, Graham said.

In the first federal disaster declaration of his five-year term, he factored in fuel costs, overtime and debris removal.

FEMA will be back in the next two weeks to review the numbers.

This is the fourth time Perry has filed the paperwork for relief funds for Monroe County disasters. “We’re still going to have to spend some money on cleanup,” Perry said.

The administration may designate further funding to additional counties if disaster damage estimates warrant.

Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Dawson, DeKalb, Forsyth, Paulding, Polk and White counties were included in Deal’s request but did not meet the per capita threshold of $3.50 per person.

The other Georgia counties eligible for aid are Bulloch, Burke, Butts, Candler, Carroll, Columbia, Coweta, Dade, Emanuel, Fayette, Fulton, Gilmer, Glascock, Haralson, Heard, Jefferson, Jenkins, McDuffie, Meriwether, Morgan, Newton, Pickens, Pike, Richmond, Screven, Spalding, Upson, Walker, Warren, Whitfield and Wilkes counties.

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