As Gov. Nathan Deal toured tornado ravaged counties in southwest Georgia, his phone rang.
It was President Donald Trump.
Deal said it was his second conversation with Trump about the deadly storms that killed 15 people in the state in the first two full days of the president’s administration.
“We’ve had other tragedies in the past,” said Deal, who is in his seventh year as governor. “This is the first time I’ve spoken to a president about these kind of circumstances.”
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Trump told Deal federal disaster assistance has been approved to help Georgia recover from tornadoes, severe storms and straight-line winds on Jan. 2, the state’s first bout of severe weather this year.
“My team tells me we’ve approved your application in record time,” Trump told Deal on the phone.
The disaster declaration makes federal funding available for temporary housing, repairs and low-cost loans for uninsured property losses, and other recovery efforts in Dougherty County.
Funds also are available to state and local governments and some nonprofit organizations to share costs of the disaster in Dougherty, Baker, Calhoun, Dougherty, Early, Mitchell, Turner and Worth counties.
Individuals and business owners who suffered losses in designated disaster areas can apply for assistance by calling 800-621-FEMA, or register online at FEMA’s website.
The state is gathering data to secure recovery assistance after last weekend’s storms that demolished parts of Albany and Adel.
Wednesday, Deal toured the damage by air and on land.
“It is almost breathtaking and it’s amazing that we did not have more loss of life than actually occurred,” Deal said.
Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., also toured the devastation with Deal and GEMA and FEMA officials.
“Middle and Southwest Georgia have faced destructive storms and tornadoes twice this month, and federal resources will be vital for the region’s recovery,” Bishop stated in a news release. “I urge the President to also approve the second request for federal assistance for those that were impacted by the tornadoes and storms that pummeled the area on January 22.”
Bishop and delegations from Georgia and Mississippi led a moment of silence on the U.S. House floor in the wake of the deadly storms.