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Tornado Relief Information

A Federal Disaster Declaration has been issued for individual assistance to aide residents of the City of Atlanta and Fulton County with recovery efforts in the wake of storms that hit the city on Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15, 2008.  

The federal declaration covers individual assistance and can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses.   Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration will also be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.

**Important Update**


Disaster applicants who have received a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan application should take the time to fill it out – even if they don’t want a loan.

Failure to fill out the SBA disaster loan application can put those impacted by the severe storms and tornadoes at risk of stopping the disaster assistance process in its tracks.



If you are currently in the process of repairing your home or business structure, please see Helpful Tips for Avoiding Contractor Fraud

For the latest information on Georgia's disaster relief visit www.fema.gov or www.gema.ga.gov or www.ready.ga.gov/ or www.georgia911.org or www.afcema.com


Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin declared the City of Atlanta to be in a state of emergency at 10:30AM on Saturday, March 15, 2008.  This allowed Governor Perdue to declare a state of emergency in Fulton County.  Perdue made the request for a federal declaration on Monday, March 17, 2008, after touring the area and reviewing preliminary damage assessment figures.  The state of emergency cleared the way for the deployment of state personnel and equipment and for the Presidential Declaration.

Following is FEMA's Declaration Process Fact Sheet that describes how emergency funding is provided through that agency.  Also, please be advised that the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta offers a 211 call center to receive non-emergency calls for human service needs.  The 211 Call Center can offer information on shelters, food, and other services to citizens who may need help.

FEMA Declaration Process Fact Sheet:

The Emergency Response Process

Preliminary Damage Assessments/ The Declarations Process/Primary Considerations for Declarations

Local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and other private interest groups provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet immediate human needs. 

If necessary, a governor can declare a state of emergency and invoke the state's emergency plan to augment individual and public resources as required.

A governor may determine, after consulting with local government officials, that the recovery appears to be beyond the combined resources of both the state and local governments and that federal assistance may be needed.  In requesting supplemental Federal assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), the Governor must certify that the severity and magnitude of the disaster exceed state and local capabilities; certify that Federal assistance is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of the state and local governments, disaster relief organizations, and compensation by insurance for disaster related losses; confirm execution of the state's emergency plan; and certify adherence to cost sharing requirements. 

Under the declaration process and to assist a governor to determine if a request for assistance should be made, a preliminary damage assessment is conducted.  These assessments are conducted in counties affected by the disaster event. FEMA works with the State's emergency management agency to accomplish these assessments.

The Preliminary Damage Assessment

This preliminary damage assessment team is comprised of personnel from FEMA, the State's emergency management agency, county and local officials and the U.S. Small Business Administration.  The team's work begins with reviewing the types of damage or emergency costs incurred by the units of government, and the impact to critical facilities, such as public utilities, hospitals, schools, and fire and police departments.  They will also look at the affect on individuals and businesses, including the number damaged, the number of people displaced, and the threat to health and safety caused by the storm event.  Additional data from the Red Cross or other local voluntary agencies may also be reviewed.  During the assessment the team will collect estimates of the expenses and damages. 

This information can then be used by the Governor to support a declaration request - showing the cost of response efforts, such as emergency personnel overtime, other emergency services, and damage to citizens, is beyond state and local recovery capabilities.  The information gathered during the assessment will help the Governor certify that the damage exceeds state and local resources.

The Declaration Process

As set forth in the Stafford Act, a governor seeks a presidential declaration by submitting a written request to the President through the FEMA regional office.  In this request the Governor certifies that the combined local, county and state resources are insufficient and that the situation is beyond their recovery capabilities.  Following a FEMA regional and national office review of the request and the findings of the preliminary damage assessment, FEMA provides the President an analysis of the situation and a recommended course of action.

Criteria Used By FEMA

The federal disaster law restricts the use of arithmetical formulas or other objective standards as the sole basis for determining the need for federal supplemental aid.  As a result, FEMA assesses a number of factors to determine the severity, magnitude, and impact of a disaster event.  In evaluating a Governor's request for a major disaster declaration, a number of primary factors, along with other relevant information, are considered in developing a recommendation to the President for supplemental disaster assistance.  Primary factors considered include:

  • Amount and type of damage (number of homes destroyed or with major damage);
  • Impact on the infrastructure of affected areas or critical facilities;
  • Imminent threats to public health and safety;
  • Impacts to essential government services and functions;
  • Unique capability of Federal government;
  • Dispersion or concentration of damage;
  • Level of insurance coverage in place for homeowners and public facilities;
  • Assistance available from other sources (Federal, State, local, voluntary organizations);
  • State and local resource commitments from previous, undeclared events; and
  • Frequency of disaster events over recent time period.

The very nature of disasters-their unique circumstances, the unexpected timing, and varied impacts-precludes a complete listing of factors considered when evaluating disaster declaration requests.  However, the above lists most primary considerations.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Additional Resources:

FEMA/GEMA: Tips To Reduce High Wind And Tornado Damage

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