Does Homeland Security budget short-change Georgia? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Does Homeland Security budget short-change Georgia?

March 25, 2004

Mitchell County- If a terrorist ever strikes in Mitchell County, the calls for help would come in to the 911 center.

Local first responders are better prepared today than they've ever been.

"This trailer is a mobile emergency communications vehicle," said Clark Harrell, director of Mitchell 911.

It was paid for by of the Department of Homeland Security.

"The top box that we have here is the ACU 1000 Smart Box. It is the brains behind all of the system here," Clark said.

This system will help public safety workers communicate in a disaster. Thanks to these controls, it wouldn't matter what kind of radios they were using.

The Department of Homeland Security has sent $63 million to Georgia so far. Of that money, $2 million came to 23 South Georgia counties. But Georgia is getting less money per person than every other state. Less populated states, like Alaska and Wyoming, are getting the most per person.

Emergency officials say the money we have gotten is being well spent. "Two million dollars into this area has bought a lot of equipment, bought a lot of resources that we didn't have," said Gary Rice, Field II Coordinator with GEMA.

Equipment like this will make a big difference in fighting terror. "We're better prepared," Rice said. "I don't know that we could ever say that we're totally prepared because in dealing with terrorism, we don't know what's coming next."

So South Georgia first responders will keep preparing, so they can answer the calls for help if terror strikes.

updated at 9:50AM 3/26/04 by brannon.stewart@walb.com