A Time for Neighbors to Help Neighbors

By Sen. Jim Butterworth and Rep. Michael Harden

ATLANTA (Sept. 29, 2009) – Last week’s tragic weather has been disastrous for many communities and families in Georgia. We offer our sincerest condolences to the citizens of Georgia that were impacted by the destruction left in the wake of powerful storm systems. We would also like to express our gratitude to the governor and his team for declaring a state of emergency in Stephens County.

In the past week, over 300 homes in Stephens County were affected by flood damage, 17 counties throughout Georgia are in a state of emergency and the president has issued a federal disaster declaration. Yet these tough times serve as a reminder of the strength of the community. Neighbors are reaching out and helping neighbors. It is heartwarming to know Wal-Mart has donated almost 3000 cases of water to those left without and GA Baptist has set up showers so that basic hygiene can be maintained.

We recently conducted an aerial tour of the flood damages in Stephens County. We were able to see first-hand the extent of the damages created in the wake of the powerful storm systems that swept through north Georgia. So many citizens have been left without the proper means to feed, clothe, and protect their loved ones. The recovery process is just beginning for many but we pledge, as citizens and legislators, to do all we can to help those in need.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) is working throughout the state to coordinate emergency response. Manpower and equipment is being deployed to assist citizens with their immediate needs. GEMA is also working with other state agencies to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Department of Agriculture is helping with animal evacuations and the Georgia Forestry Commission is providing debris clearance and some water tankers. The Department of Human Services is coordinating shelters and hospitals to provide basic health care. This is just a sampling of how the state agencies of Georgia are working together in a time of need.

The key to a strong and rapid recovery is not just government aid. You are the key. If you are able to donate an hour of assistance, a can of food, or a piece of clothing, that could be the thing that makes a difference to someone. The greatest impact of this flood has been in several centrally localized areas. For those who live in these areas, life as they know it has changed, at least for now. While it’s very easy for the rest of us to go back to our daily routines now that the rain has stopped, we urge you to help others in need and please continue to ask how you can help. Again, the key is not to sit by and only let government provide the basic essentials. We have a moral obligation to help provide for our neighbors during their time of struggle.

If you would like to contribute please contact your local Red Cross or visit http://www.citizencorps.gov to learn more about volunteer opportunities in your area. To donate funds or supplies please visit the Aidmatrix web site at http://www.aidmatrixnetwork.org/fema/ to find out where your contributions are most needed.

For assistance please contact your local officials or the Constituent Services division of GEMA at 404-635-2154 for shelter information. Also for more information available online, please visit GEMA’s web site at www.gema.ga.gov. To learn how to prepare for disaster, visit www.ready.ga.gov .

Sen. Jim Butterworth represents the 50th Senate District which includes Towns, Rabun, Habersham, Stephens, Banks, Franklin, and Hart counties along with a portion of White County. He can be reached by phone at 404.463.5257 or by email at jim.butterworth@senate.ga.gov.

Representative Michael Harden represents the citizens of District 28, which includes Banks and Stephens Counties, and portions of Franklin County. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2008, and currently serves on the Children & Youth, Agriculture, Higher Education, and Motor Vehicles Committees.  He can be reached by phone at 706-599-6028 or by email at michael.harden@house.ga.gov.

For Immediate Release:
September 29, 2009
For Information Contact:
Raegan Weber, Director
Katie Wright, Communications Associate