Federal Emergency Management Agency inspections of widespread damages in Augusta from last week’s ice storm got underway in force Monday in the hope the area can be reimbursed for recovery expenses.
Georgia Emergency Management Director Charley English told Augusta Commission members and Mayor Deke Copenhaver at a meeting Monday the inspectors are in Richmond County this week to determine whether homeowners, renters and the government might be eligible for federal assistance.
For the state to meet the federal criteria, the storm had to leave a minimum of 400 to 500 uninsured homes uninhabitable and cost the governments $13.6 million, English said.
For Richmond County to qualify for federal assistance, the storm had to cost the government about $3.50 per capita, or about $700,000, he said.
English and the city officials praised the local government’s and residents’ response to the storm. Asked by Commissioner Bill Lockett to rate the local response, English called it “magnificent,” particularly how “local governments got the word out to citizens there was trouble on the way.”
The storm has drawn contractors and others seeking cleanup work from all over the country. English suggested three reputable charitable groups that are in the area for those unable to afford the help, but he said “it’s a real balancing act” for the city to try to monitor for unlicensed contractors while it is also in need of so much cleanup assistance.
“It’s welcome, all the help right now,” Commissioner Grady Smith said.
Commissioner Mary Davis, whose District 3 was among the areas hardest hit, said she hadn’t observed a single household in the district without some degree of storm damage.
“It seemed to me almost every home was affected,” Davis said.
Still, Davis said, as she drove around the district over the weekend, no one was complaining.
“Every person had a smile on their face, saying, ‘We are fine, we are lucky,’ ” she said.
Power outages were nearly restored to Richmond County residents Monday, with Augusta Fire Chief Chris James reporting only a few hundred still without electricity.
Copenhaver said many of those still without power had such
severe damage to their homes
that the power could not be restored.
Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said several of those still calling him about power outages were Planters Electric customers in the southern part of the county.