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Georgia could get more funding for disaster plans

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Georgia could be eligible for as much as 33 percent more federal Hazard Mitigation Grant money in the event of a natural disaster declaration by the president.

The state was among 13 across the country to earn "enhanced state" status recently from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after approval of Georgia's Hazard Mitigation Strategy. The plan serves as a guide for leaders coping with natural disasters.

Enhanced status allows state agencies and local governments to pull down more federal funding in the event of a natural disaster, and use the money to develop plans to lessen the impact of a future disaster.

"Whenever there is a major disaster for a state, the whole federal disaster financial aid package includes a certain portion or percentage to be used toward mitigation projects so that the next time there is an issue - and there always is a next time - there will be less damage," said Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokesman Ken Davis. "In essence, this enhanced program allows us more money to help lessen the risk to properties and people."

Georgia was chosen, in part, because of its comprehensive framework for statewide disaster mitigation actions, Davis said.

"That [designation] was really a milestone, a feather in our cap for the Hazard Mitigation Program," Davis said. "It's a collaborative effort. Communities throughout the state helped us achieve this designation, and as a result communities will be able to receive more of this mitigation funding."

"FEMA's approval of the Georgia Hazard Mitigation Strategy Enhanced Status is a very important accomplishment," Gov. Sonny Perdue said in a statement. "This designation gives local communities more access to mitigation funding through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency for the development of plans and implementation of projects that will reduce or eliminate the cost of natural disasters."

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On the net:

Georgia Emergency

Management Agency: www.gema.ga.gov