Originally created 07/12/00

Guidelines for flood fund made



The Georgia Emergency Management Agency has advised local officials that a $105,000 emergency flood-relief grant from the governor should be made available to residents countywide - not just to those in Commonwealth subdivision.

The recommendation was submitted to county officials by GEMA on Tuesday and was accompanied by a list of proposed eligibility requirements for distributing immediate relief money for victims of last month's flood.

"They're just suggestions, and some guidelines based on previous disaster aid administered in the past," said Lisa Ray, public affairs director for GEMA.

Applications to receive relief money are expected to become available to flood victims by Friday from the county's Emergency Management Agency. A check from the governor's discretionary fund should arrive at GEMA offices by early next week, Ms. Ray said.

"This is the first time it's ever been done in the state like this, so it's kind of like a new program," said local EMA Director David Dlugolenski. "I've got to set a plan in place and identify what the needs are. Once I know that, then I need to make decisions as to how the money is distributed."

A priority list of who is most in need of emergency money could be complete as early as the end of next week, Mr. Dlugolenski said. The grant money will be available to flood victims through Sept. 30.

The GEMA guidelines say that the maximum amount any household could receive from the governor's grant is $5,000 and must be awarded for temporary housing, replacement or food, clothing, furnishings, emergency medical expenses, minor home repairs to restore the habitability of an owner-occupied home and transportation expenses. The grant funds cannot be used to duplicate benefits from other sources, including insurance agencies or volunteer groups.

GEMA's suggestions likely will be adopted this week with a few additions more specific to Richmond County, Mr. Dlugolenski said.

Mayor Bob Young and Rep. Robin Williams will work this week with local EMA officials to finalize grant award guidelines and administer applications for the relief money.

"We're in a very awkward situation because it's not our money, and whatever instructions we're given, we're going to follow," Mr. Young said of Tuesday's correspondence with GEMA. "Those instructions, the ones that came (Tuesday) said the money is for victims throughout the city."

Mr. Williams last week requested the money specifically for residents of Commonwealth; he visited the subdivision Monday evening to inform homeowners that the money was on its way.

Although the relief funds are not exclusively available to Commonwealth residents as he had previously announced, Mr. Williams said the governor's money still will help those homeowners on Dominion Court and Dominion Way the most.

"They're the ones not living in their homes," Mr. Williams said. "It doesn't exclude anyone else who might be in that situation somewhere else, and I'm happy for that, regardless of where they live."

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.

Public meeting

Homeowners and renters in Meadowgrove subdivision will meet with local and state officials at 7 tonight to discuss relief measures for those affected by June 20 flooding of Butler Creek. The meeting will take place at Gracewood Community Center on Tobacco Road.