Months after an EF-3 tornado tore through a Georgia county southwest of Atlanta officials said a federal agency has denied its request for additional help in the recovery.
“Obviously we’re extremely disappointed that the (disaster) declaration didn’t go through,” Troup County Emergency Management Agency Director Zac Steele said Wednesday at a news conference.
“FEMA requires a threshold of $19 million in damage statewide and we fell short of that,” Steele explained.
Between 25 and 30 homes were destroyed by the severe storm that hit the area March 26 and at least 100 more were damaged. Five people in Georgia suffered minor injuries compared to the 25 lives lost in Mississippi and one in Alabama.
In a statement Tuesday, FEMA said the damage “did not meet the threshold to go beyond the capabilities of the state, local governments and voluntary agencies. Therefore supplemental federal assistance will not be provided.”
Steele said the request submitted by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, on behalf of about a dozen counties in the state including Troup, would have helped cover damage, debris removal and overtime pay for first responders.
While they aren’t happy with FEMA’s decision, Steele said it won’t slow down their recovery efforts, WAGA-TV reported.
“We’ll find local options, community grants whatever is out there to be able to serve our citizens … that’s exactly what we’re gonna do,” he said.
Steele said the county’s focus remains two-fold: helping residents and preparing for the next one.
“Our citizens are paramount for us and it’s our job to make sure we do anything possible to serve them, we’re going to continue to do that,” he said.
The March 26 tornado was the third to hit Troup County this year. Its winds were recorded at above 136 mph.
“When we thought we were getting caught up from January, we get hit again, so, it’s just a double whammy if you will,” said Sgt. Stewart Smith of the county’s sheriff’s office.