Georgia Governor Declares State of Emergency

CONNELL MCSHANE, GUEST HOST: And it is not just Alabama that is reeling from all of these twisters. Georgia got hit especially hard as well, 15 people killed in that state, dozens of homes leveled.

And the governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, just issuing an emergency declaration. He joins us now.

Governor, are -- what do you need right now in your state? And are you getting what you need?

GOV. NATHAN DEAL, R-GA.: Well, first of all, we hope that the president will soon sign off on the emergency declaration. I have submitted that to him. We have 16 counties that I declared to be emergency areas.

And with the president’s signature, it’ll allow federal money to come in to our local communities so we can have the funds necessary for the recovery.

MCSHANE: Well, we just saw this devastation from John Roberts in his report in Alabama. And, as he said, and as President Obama said when he visited that state earlier today, have never seen anything like it before.

Describe what’s happening in Georgia right now and what the biggest hurdles are for you, what you need to get done.

DEAL: Well, first of all, we think that there were, perhaps, as many as 11 tornadoes. We think eight have actually been confirmed that literally that went from the middle of our state all the way across the top of our state.

The most deadly force was in the northwestern corner. We had some eight fatalities in Catoosa County there close to the Tennessee line. But the thing that we need the most right now is federal assistance. Our local law enforcement and firefighters and emergency personnel are expending their resources, as is the state of Georgia itself.

And we need to have some additional revenue to assist in this recovery effort. We hope, long term, that, also, our people will qualify for federal assistance, for low-interest loans, so that they can begin to restore their homes and rebuild their businesses.

MCSHANE: Right. Because I read, I think, yesterday, it was 52,000 people were without power. Are you making any progress in terms of getting people’s electricity at least turned back on at this point?

DEAL: Yes. Our power companies are working diligently to do that.

It’s still probably going to be several days before power is restored in the hardest-hit areas. Georgia was fortunate that the tornadoes, as devastating as they were, didn’t hit major metropolitan areas, as they did this in the state of Alabama.

MCSHANE: Oh, man, is that ever true.

DEAL: So, we’re blessed in that regard.

And we still -- any time you have a loss of life -- as you indicated, we have had 15 confirmed fatalities -- that is a very sad and serious situation.

MCSHANE: We look at a place like we just looked at in Tuscaloosa, but you must be thinking to yourself, boy, if something like this were to have tore through Atlanta, say, for example, the devastation would have been indescribable, right?

DEAL: Yes, it would have been.

We put in place in our state -- after the 1998 tornadoes that hit the Atlanta area and the north Georgia area, we put in place alarm systems, sirens, reverse 911 phone call systems and purchasing of radios that were weather radios to alarm and notify our people. But we’re going to reassess after these tornadoes and see if we need to make additional efforts in that regard. And I’m sure we will find that we do need to do that.

MCSHANE: Is there was -- is there anything that stands out to you now just in the first couple of days that said, boy, this is something that we really need to do or something we need to do differently in future, in terms of warning people early or alert systems that could be put in place or anything like that?

DEAL: Well, we have done a pretty good job of installing the sirens.  And they apparently worked very well.

But ours is a very large state.


DEAL: And it is very difficult to cover some of the very rural parts.  We’re going to look at that, assess it, and determine whether or not we do need additional resources there.

But I want to commend the people of my state for working to help their neighbors. Communities are coming together. Churches, civic organizations, and the traditional aid agencies have all come and provided shelter, provided food. And we’re going to recover. We are going to be OK in the long run. We do hope the president will hurry up and sign the emergency declaration, so that we can begin to do some things...


DEAL: ... that we don’t have the resources at the state level to do.

MCSHANE: Governor Deal, thank you very much. And we wish you the best.

DEAL: Thank you.

MCSHANE: Governor Nathan Deal there from the state of Georgia.

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