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Some GA residents will start over

At least 8,000 homes deemed 'unlivable' as volunteers respond to help flood survivors.

BY ZACHARY HOFFMAN | AUSTELL, GA | September 27, 2009

At least 8,000 houses in the Atlanta area have so much damage that families cannot return home until significant repairs are made, according to one local disaster response official.

Last week, more than 14 inches of rain poured onto counties in Georgia overnight; some places saw more than 20 inches in a 24-hour period. The rain fell and waters rose destroying thousands of homes.

“As I know now, there are some 8,000 homes in the Atlanta area that are not livable,” said Mike Yoder, coordinator of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. “The important thing is that there are 8,000 families out there hurting and we need to do what we can.”

Adjei Boachie and his family lived in Austell, Georgia, before the creek behind their house flooded the second floor of their home.

A group from McEachern United Methodist Church joined the Boachie family Saturday to help remove the contents of their house and pull out all the wet drywall.

“It’s hard to believe,” said Bob Folson from McEachern. “I picked up curtain rods and they were just full of water.”

Bob Relf said, “The problem is it crumbles, you can’t pick pieces up.”

A few houses away, Fernando Uribe and his wife Gini were busy disassembling their first real investment. The 27-year-old couple had just purchased the home to start a life with their two-year-old daughter.

Gini Uribe and her daughter were home when the flood started. A neighbor helped get the two-year-old to safety while Uribe had to almost swim through the waist deep water. By the time Fernando was able to get home from work, water was already halfway up the front door and neighbors were crawling through their upstairs bedrooms to salvage items by boat.

“We started with nothing, now we have to start all over again with nothing,” said Gini Uribe.

Another few houses in the opposite direction, Beverly Phillips was spared from damage but felt compelled to do her part anyway. She bought 12 pizzas to feed the neighborhood, which turned into donations from local businesses of three meals a day for more than 40 families.

“We didn’t get flooded, and it’s the only thing I could think of to do,” said Phillips. “I never thought I’d be able to help this many people at once.”

“They may be eating pizzas three times a day, but they don’t care,” Phillips said.

In 2004, Hurricane Dennis swept though Georgia and flooded many of the same areas in Powder Springs, Marietta and outside of Douglasville hit hardest during this flood event.

“These folks have been hit hard two times in the past five years,” said Bob Tribble, of Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) and president of the Georgia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). “People living in these counties are king of prone.”

Yet, the vast majority of homeowners do not have flood insurance because they are not living in a flood plain. Still, hope remains with the intervention of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and faith-based response organizations.

“This is not a one man show, everybody has to cooperate,” said Yoder.

The United Methodist Church, LDR, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), Church World Service (CWS), the United Church of Christ, Week of Compassion, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Samaritan’s Purse, the Adventist Church and Georgia Baptists are a few of the organizations planning to respond to the disaster. However, much of the immediate work is being coordinated by local churches.

“The disaster is owned by the people where the disaster is,” said Yoder.


Related Topics:

Solutions for flood insurance

What's changed, what hasn't at FEMA

How US flood insurance works


More links on Flooding

More links on Disaster Recovery

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