Governor Kemp surveys Lowndes Co. Idalia damage, requests FEMA assistance

Lowndes County was one of the hardest hit areas in South Georgia.
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 10:39 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2023 at 6:00 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was in Valdosta with Hurricane Idalia recovery updates on Friday. He announced that federal disaster assistance from FEMA has officially been requested. That will allow individual damage requests to be filed.

Kemp noted that while the recovery process has been slow, there has been some progress made throughout Lowndes County.

After Hurricane Idalia swept through Valdosta Wednesday morning, around 277,000 households and businesses were left with no power across Georgia. Now there are approximately 70,000 still waiting for their power to be restored.

GEMA Director Chris Stallings estimates there are about $35 million in damages throughout Lowndes County, and that amount is growing.

Governor Kemp said while he’s grateful the storm had a short and narrow path through South Georgia, people are still telling him this is one of the worst storms they’ve experienced.

We’re in this fight with this local community and the rest of them that were affected by this storm for the duration. We still have a lot of work to do, and we’re going to be here and help get it done,” Kemp said. “Our biggest concerns continue to be getting roads cleared so we can get our power company personnel to the places they need to be to get power back on. We still have a few water issues that are mainly because we don’t have power to those water systems and we’re working hard to alleviate that.”

Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper said that Georgia’s pecan crop in the impact zones took a huge hit with about 50-60% of the pecan crop being wiped out by the storm.

“In the impact zone for the Department of Agriculture, there are a little over 13,000 businesses and farms and operations that we’re involved with that are in the impact zone of this specific hurricane,” Harper said. “The tobacco and the corn crop that were still in the field, most of that had been harvested, but that was left in the field is probably all gone and unable to be harvested. Just like the governor said, we’ve got other operations on significant power, all of these ag operations are utilizing generators to keep their barns operational, to keep their produce operational, facilities operational.”

On Monday, Sept. 4, the insurance commissioner will be setting up insurance companies at the Home Depot in Valdosta on Norman Drive for residents to start filing damage claims. Governor Kemp also says FEMA trucks will start coming in and out of town to assist as they continue assessing the storm damage.

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