The Federal Emergency Management Association and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency recently opened a disaster assistance center in Rockdale after determining the county had sustained enough flood damage to qualify for federal funds to help repair individual homes and public infrastructure.
Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. Myra Pearell estimated there were about 60 homes and businesses in the county affected by flood damage as of Oct. 1.
The center, which operates as a "one stop shop" for individual disaster assistance in Rockdale and Newton County, opened Sept. 29 at 1400 Parker Road. Representatives from the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Insurance Commissioner are on hand to help guide applicants.
U.S. Small Business Administrators (SBA) representatives are also on hand to help complete and accept SBA disaster loan applications. Anyone not able to go to a DRC can call the SBA Customer Service Center from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 800-659-2955 or visit the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance or email email@example.com.
Workers estimated about 10 families a day were coming through the center, some from harder hit counties with centers that were busier.
Residents from any zip code in Rockdale and Newton counties are eligible for federal aid but must first register with FEMA. The limit to individual assistance varies but is generally capped around $30,000.
Rockdale also recently qualified for public assistance, which can help pay the cost of repairing infrastructure, roads, bridges, dams and the costs from emergency services, such as overtime.
FEMA’s public assistance funds 75 percent of the costs, while the county would pay 25 percent.
"We’re seeing some damages to the infrastructure," said Pearell, including some damage to roadways, culverts, sink holes in roadways, bridges and some damage to the wastewater treatment plant. Inspections are still ongoing, she pointed out.
"As the waters recede, we’re getting around the county and we’re better able to assess the damage," she said.
The disaster recovery center will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Flood survivors can get information about individual disaster assistance and can start the process of applying for individual FEMA disaster assistance by registering with FEMA. Individuals may also apply for assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585.
Current estimates are that 35-50 families have been displaced in Rockdale county due to flood damage. Of these, approximately eight are still in temporary shelter provided by Rockdale Emergency Relief, according to Ashley Roesler, executive director. Among the mounting obstacles they face are transportation challenges getting to and from work.
Rockdale Emergency Relief is operating as the "hub" for local disaster assistance, especially for families that do not qualify for FEMA assistance.
To make a donation to RER, which is acting as "hub" for local disaster assistance, call 770-922-0165. The United Way has designated a fund specifically for Rockdale Disaster Relief and can be reached at 678-623-2890.
This center is the 10th disaster recovery center set up in a flood-affected county in the metro-Atlanta area.
For more information on Georgia's disaster recovery, visit www.fema.gov or www.gema.ga.gov or www.ready.ga.gov or http://twitter.com/GeorgiaEMA or www.afcema.com. Further information may be obtained on the Rockdale County website, www.rockdalecounty.org.