Special session regarding Hurricane Michael relief held in Atlanta

GA Special Session

ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - A special session regarding relief efforts following Hurricane Michael began in Atlanta on Tuesday.

State representatives called the session an almost unprecedented event, adding that Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t normally call these types of sessions after natural disasters.

But the damage following Hurricane Michael caused was also unprecedented.

Currently, state representatives are looking at a proposed bill that could potentially fund a little under $300 million in storm recovery efforts.

A new proposed bill, called “1EX,” if passed, could give around $270 million to Southwest Georgia.

But state representatives said this money is really just a drop in the bucket, adding there are still several counties with fallen limbs and trees still blocking roads.

State leaders said this money is first needed to repair infrastructure and fund debris removal. But they also said this leaves the agricultural business still in a great need for assistance.

“The losses to the farmers, and whatever it would take to compensate them, I can tell you I know that number is far, far in excess of the ability of this one state, or any other state in the nation, to do on its own without federal assistance,” said David Ralston, the House of Representatives speaker.

Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston speaks during the special session in Atlanta. (Source: WALB)
Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston speaks during the special session in Atlanta. (Source: WALB)

Representatives said Deal calling the special session will show the federal government how serious the state is about getting disaster relief funding.

But not only will it further show the state’s need for money, leaders said it will show the people actually affected by Michael that they’re trying to get them the much needed help.

“Other people I know are saying, hey at least the general assembly understands that we’ve had tremendous devastation in Southwest Georgia," said State Rep. Darrel Ealum. "And just the fact that we are coming back into session, that’s almost unprecedented.”

State Rep. Darrel Ealum (Source; WALB)
State Rep. Darrel Ealum (Source; WALB)

But representatives said this funding would just be the start, noting the funding is a small amount of money when compared to the economic hit the Southwest Georgia region took in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

“What Michael did was just add to a problem that was already existing in Southwest Georgia," said State Rep. Winfred Dukes, of District 154. "So I think it would be an excellent opportunity for us to be able to address some of those concerns we had before Michael and now those things that have just been accentuated after Michael.”

The main problems the funding would go towards fixing are first infrastructure repairs and debris removal.

Representatives said these must be taken care of first.

The special session will continue for the next five days.

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