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President’s declaration to release funds

President Obama’s issued on Thursday a disaster declaration for the state of Georgia, triggering the release of federal funds to help communities recover from severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that hit the state.

A period of severe weather beginning March 26 and continuing through April 10 resulted in widespread residential, commercial and infrastructure damage across South Georgia.

The designation includes assistance to individuals and households in Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Coffee, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Echols, Lanier, Lowndes, Miller, Mitchell, Pierce, Tift, Ware, Wheeler and Worth counties.

Additionally, the designation includes state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities in several counties, including Baker, Mitchell and Early counties.

Decatur County was not included in the areas designated to receive public assistance, however, additional designations may be made at a later date after further evaluation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Residents and business owners in these counties who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time) Monday through Sunday.

Individual assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.