ATLANTA – President Joe Biden on Thursday approved a disaster declaration for three Georgia counties following Hurricane Idalia’s sprint across southern and coastal Georgia on Aug. 30. The storm made landfall with 125 mph (201 kph) winds in Florida’s remote Big Bend region before moving north into Georgia.
Biden initially approved assistance to individuals and governments in Cook, Glynn and Lowndes counties.
Debris pick-up that was expected to start in Glynn County Monday morning will not begin until next week because FEMA needs to get a better look at all of the damage. Debris removal is expected to cost Glynn County more than half a million dollars. With the disaster declaration, FEMA should cover at least 75 percent of that cost.
Lowndes County, home to the city of Valdosta, experienced the worst damage, with estimates showing 80 homes destroyed and 835 homes sustaining major damage as winds reached nearly 70 mph (113 kph).
One man in Valdosta died when a tree fell on him as he tried to clear another tree from a road, sheriff’s deputies said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, in a letter sent Wednesday, requested aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to governments in 30 counties and individuals in the three counties Biden approved and added Appling County.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency expects more counties to be added and additional types of assistance granted.
Florida also has suffered three Idalia-related deaths. Biden initially approved seven counties in Florida for assistance after Idalia and has added six more.
“This assistance will quickly be put to good use helping those impacted by Hurricane Idalia," Kemp said in a statement. "We will not stop calling for greater assistance until every Georgia county that sustained damage receives a federal disaster declaration and the help Georgians deserve.”
Aid to individuals can include cash to pay for temporary housing and repairs and low-cost loans to repair uninsured property. For local governments and electric cooperatives, FEMA will help reimburse debris removal and pay for emergency workers, as well as repair public infrastructure.
Kemp estimated Georgia governments saw at least $41 million in damage to public infrastructure, well above the $19 million threshold required statewide for a disaster declaration.
Individuals and business owners in the three counties can seek assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 1-800-621-3362 or by using the FEMA app.