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Thursday, September 24, 2009 - 10:51am

Obama Issues Federal Disaster Declaration For Five Ga. Counties

Relief is coming for many residents in flooded Georgia counties.

President Barack Obama issued a federal disaster declaration to provide aid in the wake of destructive flooding.

So far, individual assistance for recovery efforts will be made available to residents of Carroll, Cobb, Paulding, Douglas and Cherokee counties. The key for flood victims, according to Georgia Emergency Management Agency's Buzz Weiss, is gathering any needed paperwork.

"People who have incurred losses, they need to be getting together any sort of documentation that they have, any information that might be helpful, so as soon as they are able to make an application for assistance they can do so," said Weiss.

Aid from the declaration may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Residents should call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA or visit to apply for assistance.

Perdue declared a state of emergency in 17 counties Monday. For the other 12 counties not covered by this federal declaration, there is some anxiousness to see if aid will come. Chattooga County in Northwest Georgia is one of the municipalities seeking aid. At least $2 million in damage has been done to county buildings, said Chattooga County Public Works and Emergency Management Director Lamar Canada. There are also extensive personnel costs for emergency workers.

Canada told GPB that Chattooga needs federal aid. "If we don't get it, we're going to have to suck it up and swallow the costs," Canada said. That would mean the cash strapped county would have to consider cutting other services.

On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Georgia to survey the flood damage and discuss the federal government’s commitment to helping the region. Biden will also visit with families affected by the floods.

The federal help is good news for victims like 43-year-old Mary Arlene Harris of Austell. She's been at a Red Cross shelter in Cobb County with her two teenage sons since Tuesday. "I had a house it was up under water, we went yesterday... everything is a total disaster."

Harris is one of more than 200 people who spent the night in the gymnasium filled with rows of cots.

She says with no phone, no money, and no way to get around even to her job at Taco Bell, she feels stuck. "Ah we need clothes, bus tickets, to get back and forth to work, because I go back to work Monday, so I have no idea... we have no money."


Edgar Treiguts, Melissa Stiers, John Sepulvado, Emily Green, Carl Zornes, Rickey Bevington

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