State and local government officials assess Albany damage and response

State and local government officials assess Albany damage and response
Dougherty County Commission Chair Chris Cohilas (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Commission Chair Chris Cohilas (Source: WALB)
Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard (Source: WALB)
Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard (Source: WALB)
Congressman Sanford Bishop (Source: WALB)
Congressman Sanford Bishop (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Did the city of Albany wait too long to ask for state emergency help? The governor said he could not act until local officials made an official request.

State officials said that it was nearly two and a half days from the time the devastating storm winds plowed through central Albany before state assistance was requested.

After Governor Nathan Deal toured some of the worst storm damaged areas in Albany on Tuesday, he met with Albany and Dougherty County officials.

He announced he has officially requested a federal emergency request.

"Well the state has to be asked. We were not able to come until local authorities had done their assessment. And ask us to come and provide state assistance," explained Governor Nathan Deal.

Deal said he signed the request as soon as his office received it.

WALB asked Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas and Mayor Dorothy Hubbard about the delay in officially requesting state assistance.

Both said they were aware of the issue.

They said that after the recovery work is done, they will evaluate if mistakes were made and by whom, and will come up with what needs to be done to fix them.

"I think it is something that has to be evaluated as in any emergency situation. I'm not super pleased right now, but it's something I think that has to be evaluated," said Dougherty County Commission Chair Chris Cohilas.

"And we'll be able to determine whether we could have, should have done some things faster. And we'll be in a better position to do better next time. Yes, we have heard the criticism," explained Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.

Deal mentioned that his office has been in contact with Congressman Sanford Bishop's office, requesting federal resources.

The findings of GEMA and FEMA's preliminary damage assessment on Wednesday will determine a decision by Governor Deal on whether to request federal disaster assistance.

Bishop released a statement saying:

I thank Governor Deal for his swift action in issuing a state of emergency in southwest Georgia. The scope of the damage is dramatic, and I urge the Governor to submit a formal request to the President for federal disaster assistance as soon as possible.

A federal disaster designation requires a formal request made by the governor to the president.

Eligibility requires a collective damage estimate for the impacted areas of $13.8 million, in excess of amounts covered by available insurance.

The state insurance department has estimated last week's storms will cost $30 million in insured losses alone.

Federal assistance then generally covers any lack in insurance coverage for impacted people.

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