Hurricane Idalia: Government response
Before Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Aug. 30, federal and state agencies began making resources available to help farmers weather the storm.
On Aug. 29, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency, ordering the Georgia Department of Transportation to facilitate movement of people and equipment to re-establish electricity to affected areas. Kemp authorized the activation of up to 1,000 National Guard troops to aid in preparation, recovery and response. The governor also ordered the suspension in Georgia of rules limiting hours that operators of commercial vehicles may drive and prohibited price gouging. The executive order expired Sept. 8.
A disaster declaration for federal public assistance was issued for the following 25 counties: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Echols, Emanuel, Jeff Davis, Jenkins, Lanier, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Thomas, Tift, Ware and Wayne according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA).
In addition, Cook, Lowndes and Glynn counties received a federal disaster declaration for public and individual assistance. More counties may receive a disaster declaration and counties with an existing declaration may be approved for additional categories of assistance as federal agencies process damage assessments and disaster requests.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) made a variety of resources available to assist farmers affected by the storm, including shelters for livestock. GDA also conducted damage assessment to Georgia farms, as well as to state agricultural assets like state farmer’s markets. The Valdosta State Farmer’s Market sustained roof damage and thee Savannah State Farmer’s Market was left without power.
The GDA also provided periodic updates on information gathered from its assessments.
For more information about the GDA’s hurricane response and resources, visit www.agr.georgia.gov/hurricane-response-idalia.
On Sept. 7, President Joe Biden in response to Gov. Kemp’s request, approved a disaster declaration allowing Georgians in Cook, Glynn, and Lowndes Counties access to emergency relief funds. Damage assessments continue in other areas affected by the storm.
Cook, Glynn, and Lowndes Counties are home to more than 650 agricultural operations farming more than 140,000 acres with a farm-gate value of more than $120 million. Additionally, The Georgia Department of Agriculture licenses and regulates 1,858 entities across Cook, Glynn, and Lowndes Counties. These entities include livestock and poultry operations, retail grocery stores, meat processing facilities, gas stations, animal shelters, and others. This declaration allows farmers, small-business owners, and other GDA regulated entities to apply for emergency disaster relief.
Federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of Hurricane Idalia.
Federal funding is also available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Cook, Glynn, and Lowndes counties. Lastly, Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA App. Anyone using a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service, or others, can give FEMA the number for that service.