FEMA officials to visit Georgia, survey tornado damage Wednesday

On Wednesday, one of FEMA’s top officials will visit Georgia to survey the damage suffered from last week’s tornadoes.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 11:16 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Wednesday, one of FEMA’s top officials will visit Georgia to survey the damage suffered from last week’s tornadoes.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik A. Hooks will visit Troup County and Spalding County before taking part in a press conference in Griffin on Wednesday afternoon.

The visit comes a day after President Joe Biden ushered through an expedited ‘major disaster declaration’ for seven Georgia counties: Troup, Spalding, Meriwether, Butts, Henry and Jasper.

Gov. Brian Kemp and the state requested the declaration on Monday after recognizing the widespread damage from the series of tornadoes that swept through Georgia Thursday.

“The debris and the emergency response to this particular disaster has been way more than the state and the locals could bear on their own,” said Chris Stallings, Director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Stallings said this was the first time the state had received an expedited ‘major disaster declaration’ in recent history.

He said that the state quickly met the $18.9 million threshold in estimated damage needed to qualify for the disaster declaration and FEMA funding.

Stallings said that starting on Wednesday GEMA will publish where FEMA will establish pop-up disaster recovery centers.

At these sites, homeowners, renters and business owners will be able to work face-to-face with FEMA staff to help them navigate the process to receiving federal relief funding.

“We’ll help you walk through that so that it’s not a swing and a miss, you’re just guessing at it. We have a whole team beginning tomorrow in all the affected areas,” said Stallings.

In Spalding County, officials said roughly 1,800 customers are still without power. That is a drastic improvement compared to the estimated 10,000 who suffered power outages on Thursday.

An official for Griffin Spalding County Schools said there is no ETA on when public schools will resume across the county.

The district said roughly 32% of students are still displaced, according to a survey sent out to parents. Five percent of staff remain displaced, according to district officials.

Hooks, Stallings and local officials are expected to hold a press conference in Griffin at 1 p.m. Wednesday to provide more information on how to access FEMA relief grants.

If you’re in the impacted counties, GEMA officials said the first step to receiving federal funds is to file a claim at www.disasterassistance.gov.