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County may receive disaster help

Decatur County is one of about three dozen Georgia counties awaiting word from Washington, D.C., concerning whether it will receive federal disaster relief after recent flooding.

If President Obama approves a request from Gov. Sonny Perdue to designate the flood-affected areas as federal disaster zones, Decatur County is set to potentially receive two forms of monetary assistance as well as on-site help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to County Administrator Tom Patton.

Speaking a meeting called by Decatur County commissioners on Tuesday morning, Patton said Decatur County is now eligible to receive both individual assistance—money that would help flood-affected residents—as well as public assistance—a larger amount of money the county government could use to repair flood-damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Gov. Perdue’s initial disaster declaration request included Decatur County, which met requirements for receiving individual assistance, but not among those counties that met the requirement for public assistance—total damage equal to $3.25 per the number of county residents, estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be about 29,000 people.

Patton said the reason Decatur County was not initially included on the public assistance list, which could include money to fix the badly damaged Slough Loop Road, was because of two reasons. The county administrator said he believed Perdue was acting as quickly as possible to request federal help after the flooding. In addition, lingering flood waters kept state and federal emergency management agencies from getting a full picture of damage.

“We’re waiting on the president to declare a disaster,” Patton said. “We’ve been told that if that happens, FEMA may bring a team of 10 to 12 people and use us as one of [response] centers.”

Patton said county officials are waiting for the water in the Slough Loop area to go down farther to reconnect homes to well water. Currently, the neighborhood’s residents are still using water toted from a portable tank to drink and bathe, said Richard Jordan, who rents out two homes there.

Other business

Other actions taken by commissioners at their April 22 meeting:

• Heard from citizen Robert Sodrel, who requested the County Road Department make improvements to Allen Phillips, Holt, Jones and Fewell roads due to the effects of recent rainfall;

• Heard from citizen Larry Carroll, who has addressed commissioners several times on the topic of the countywide nuisance ordinance;

• Heard from Suzanne Brandt, executive director of Keep Decatur County Beautiful, who provided commissioners with an update of recent work regarding litter cleanup and recycling. Brandt also described local volunteer projects associated with the ongoing Great American Cleanup.

April 14 actions

Other actions taken by commissioners at their April 14 meeting that were not previously reported:

• Unanimously approved awarding a contract for financial management software to CSI, which submitted the low bid of $61,500 for software and data conversion. Patton said the change was necessary to avoid further costs associated with maintaining the county’s existing MUNIS software;

• Unanimously approved proclamations for James W. “Jim” Stone and for National Donate Life Month;

• Unanimously approved a beer and wine license for A & A Convenience Store, located at 1761 Faceville Hwy.;

• Unanimously approved a preliminary and final plat for Earl and Hazel Kendrick, who had requested a minor subdivision of 2.18 acres located off Donaldson Road into two lots;

• Unanimously approved a resolution to enter into an agreement to establish membership with a regional joint development authority, which consists of 21 Southwest Georgia counties interested in advanced broadband telecommunications deployment;

• Unanimously approved a transfer of 0.2 acres of property at the Airport Industrial Park to the Industrial Development Authority for a prospective aviation-related business;

• Unanimously approved awarding contract for two pickup trucks for the Road Department to Riverbend Ford, which submitted the low bid of $41,866.75;

• Agreed to cancel their April 28 meeting, as county officials will be attending the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia annual meeting in Savannah, Ga., during April 25-29.