As tornado damage mounts, it’s unclear how much aid could come from state, feds

Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 9:38 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Friday, Mahlina Chaudhry walked through her four-bedroom home, demolished by Thursday’s tornado.

“Roofs are gone, our neighborhood is not the same,” said Chaudhry, who lived in her LaGrange home with her parents, brother, her brother’s sister-in-law, and 4-year-old nephew.

A funnel was first spotted by a LaGrange citizen at 3:34 p.m. Thursday, then confirmed by county officials.

Experts determined an EF-2 tornado with winds of up to 150 miles per hour touched down in LaGrange.

“We do know there is a lot damage across the community,” said Patrick Crews, with the Troup County Board of Commissioners.

Troup County emergency officials said first responders worked long hours Thursday to help with the immediate response. The Red Cross helped provide short-term shelter for those displaced.

The county also started handing out tarps for anyone who endured roof damage.

But it’s unclear how much and if any state or federal relief aid will be granted after the series of tornadoes that touched down in Georgia Thursday.

On Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp said they do not have an estimate of how much economic damage the state faces.

“We wouldn’t be able to tell that right now,” said Gov. Kemp during a press conference on Friday.

“That’s a main priority of GEMA certainly, but our first is life and safety issues, restoring power, necessities for people, so we’ll do that, and then we’ll assess the economic damage,” Kemp added.

Chaudhry said she did not have any renter’s insurance and started a GoFundMe fundraising page to help support her family through the transition into a new home.

“Nothing [relief funding] else has come up as any government or any agencies, nothing more than that,” said Chaudhry.

She said their family has found a new place to rent, but most of their belonging, documents, and pictures were all destroyed from the tornado.

Atlanta News First reached out to GEMA on the process and timeline of how relief grants are distributed after a natural disaster.

The agency has not responded yet to this request.

Gov. Kemp said they will certainly call on federal relief dollars if the state qualifies based on the level of damage assessed.

“We’ll certainly do that if we qualify. That’s one of the things that Director Stallings and the GEMA team is well-versed in. We’ll definitely do that if we meet the qualifications,” Kemp said on Friday.