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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Obama declares state of emergency in Georgia to assist with winter storm response


As the second snowstorm in two weeks descends upon Georgia, President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in advance of the incoming wintry barrage.

Obama's decision authorizes the use of federal funds to help state and local officials better respond to the winter blast of snow, sleet, and ice. Earlier this morning, the National Weather Service warned that the storm could become a "catastrophic event" that reaches "historical proportions", including up to one-inch of ice throughout metro Atlanta's streets. The weather system is expected to hit the city sometime tonight.

In a statement, a White House spokesperson writes:

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Cobb, Dade, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Elbert, Fannin, Floyd, Forsyth, Franklin, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Hart, Jackson, Lincoln, Lumpkin, Madison, Murray, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, Walker, Walton, White, Whitfield, and Wilkes.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named W. Michael Moore as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Earlier today, Gov. Nathan Deal expanded the state's emergency declaration from 45 to 88 counties. The General Assembly has already adjourned until next Monday and non-essential state workers have been sent home today.

"On behalf of Georgians, I appreciate the president's quick response to my request. I asked last night for federal assistance in this storm response," Deal said in a statement. "My primary request to the president was for generators in the case of power outages. The federal declaration makes those available, but it also allows us to ask for other supplies, such as food, blankets and commodities, as needs develop."

Deal will provide another update at 3 p.m. on the state's response to the winter storm.

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