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Thousands of GA homes damaged

Disaster response organizations plan significant response to flooding

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | BALTIMORE | September 24, 2009

More than 14,000 Atlanta area residents have already filed claims for flood-damaged homes while thousands more are either stranded in their homes or unable to return as flood waters slowly recede after more than a foot of rain swelled rivers in the region earlier this week.

Three shelters were still open Thursday afternoon in the Atlanta area while those residents who have been able to return begin the task of cleaning up their homes.

As the water recedes, United Methodists in the North Georgia Conference expect to distribute more than 1,500 flood buckets containing clean-up supplies in the Atlanta Metro area alone according to Mike Yoder, the conference's disaster coordinator. Other faith-based organizations are also responding.

The Salvation Army has mobile canteens patrolling flooded areas to feed these stranded residents. Each mobile unit is crisscrossing the damaged areas and can feed up to 300 people.

“Our ministry goes way past handing them a meal and something to drink. It is all about encouragement. It’s dealing hope,” said Major Jim Seiler, Salvation Army Atlanta Area Commander.

Since many of the roads into these neighborhoods are closed, besides the police or fire officials, workers from the Salvation Army may be the only people residents see as they sit waiting in their homes for the water to decrease.

Until all of the neighborhoods are reachable, emergency responders will not know the full extent of the damages. But volunteer organizations are preparing for a significant response as many of the residents impacted by the floods do not appear to have flood insurance or have inadequate insurance coverage for the losses they have sustained.

“The insured damage is going to be significantly less than the total damage,” David Colmans, executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service told the Atlanta Journal Constitution Wednesday. Early estimates have put the total damage for the deadly floods at least to $250 million.

At a meeting this week sponsored by DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May, only a few of the nearly 200 participants said they had flood insurance.

Governor Sonny Perdue has issued a state of emergency in 17 counties in the state.

Monica Olivas contributed to this article.


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