Getting answers for GEMA response time after the storm

Getting answers for GEMA response time after the storm
(Source: WALB)
(Source: Chris Cohilas official Facebook page, screenshot)
(Source: Chris Cohilas official Facebook page, screenshot)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Amid questions about GEMA's response time after eight tornadoes and two damaging wind events hit South Georgia on the night of Monday, January 2, Dougherty County's EMA Director said a GEMA rep was on the ground in Albany hours after the storm.

Ron Rowe said that the regional GEMA representative was in Albany Tuesday morning, January 3.

Dougherty County's Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas has been critical about the role unnamed local officials played in perhaps delaying GEMA's response time, both on social and traditional media.

He posted a lengthy message on his official Facebook page praising EMA Director Ron Rowe's leadership, and saying that he and Mayor Dorothy Hubbard have "eliminated obstacles" in the "chain of command".

We reached out to City Manager Sharon Subadan to ask her questions about the criticism and how she communicated Albany's needs with GEMA and when, but she deferred our questions to Chief Ron Rowe.

Rowe said he doesn't know how the city manager communicated with GEMA, but said many people called GEMA in the hours and days following the storm asking for help in Albany.

"The way I understand it, and it is totally an understanding, that several people spoke to GEMA, but I don't know who did. As with any disaster, I would think that multiple people would do things like that," said Rowe.

The Governor said he had to wait on an official request from Albany, which he told us was Thursday, January 5, before enacting the state response on Thursday.

Cohilas' full post can be read here:

Important. This Editorial raises many fair and reasonable questions that the public and their elected officials have a right to have answers to and which must be answered. That is the appropriate role of the media—to scrutinize government and matters of public concern. Government's response to any natural disaster has to be reviewed and analyzed thoroughly so that the public can evaluate the performance of its leadership, both staff and elected. Additionally, thorough post-incident evaluation is of tremendous benefit for purposes of improving disaster response in the future. All of this will happen. It has to.

District 152 Rep. Darrel Ealum, wrote a letter for the beginning of the 2017 legislative session talking about the impact the storm had on him and his family.

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