ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There was high praise for one South Georgia community's leadership following a major disaster.
Retired Major General Thomas Moore presented Dougherty County's commission with a $3.6 million federal reimbursement check on Monday.
It's the first large amount of money the county has received to cover some costs from January's EF-3 tornado, specifically debris clean-up and replacing damaged traffic signs.
General Moore went off script during the presentation and complimented the collaborative leadership exhibited by Albany's Mayor, the commission chairman and other local leaders. He said it was impressive and unique.
"They were one team, one fight. And, you don't see that everywhere. And, I know. I have seen other areas that go through similar catastrophes, and they were not as cohesive," said Moore, Deputy Director of GEMA and Homeland Security
General Moore recalled his first minutes into a tour of the massive damage caused by January 21-23 tornadoes, the largest tornado outbreak in Georgia on record in any month, according to the National Weather Service.
General Moore said he realized within 'five or ten minutes' the damage was 'much greater' in Dougherty County than initially assessed.
General Moore called the Region Four FEMA director immediately, requesting federal help, who in turn contacted the Small Business Administration.
General Moore said the last year has been a learning experience for the state agency.
After more than 40 tornadoes swept across Southwest Georgia earlier in the year, which followed major disasters, Hurricanes Herrmine and Matthew, GEMA as a state agency was 'completely spun up having gone through three or four previous major events.'
General Moore said changes have been made to improve emergency response, specifically educating local and state leaders on the reimbursement process. There has been a push to get out 'greater education for the state, local and state wide.'
General Moore hopes it will make the state 'a little more ready as a whole' for the next disaster.
Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said local leaders will continuing working closely with state and federal leaders seeking additional financial help.
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