Governor Nathan Deal says he wants to review the state’s weather warning systems in the wake of last week violent storms. To do so, he may convene a task force to look into fortifying Georgia’s warning network.
The Governor says a portion of federal disaster money on the way to Georgia can be used for that review.
All counties in the state have some combination of sirens, reverse 911 systems, or NOAA weather radios in public places. And Deal says as tragic as the loss of life was for 15 people and the widespread damage, things could have been worse:
“I do think we had very good response however from the parts of the state that were hit. Most of them said we did hear the sirens, we did have the alarm systems. But we need to make sure there are no holes in that system—that’s what we’re going to review.”
State emergency officials say Georgia is much better off now than in 1998. That year, a severe weather outbreak included widespread damage in Gainesville.
Ken Davis with GEMA says a task force that year later found only half the state could get a NOAA weather radio signal.
“What that task force did was fill-out the remaining gaps of non-coverage of the NOAA weather radio system in Georgia. Now we have probably right at 99 percent of coverage in the state.”
Davis says there are now 20 counties eligible for federal disaster assistance from last week's storms. On Monday, disaster recovery centers opened in Dade and Catoosa counties in northwest Georgia. People affected can get help from state and federal emergency officials and other agencies. The centers are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Davis expects more centers to open soon in other counties.
Davis says before going to a center, people with storm losses should register with FEMA online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-FEMA.