Saturday, March 15, 2008

Governor Perdue Declares State of Emergency

Today Governor Sonny Perdue issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in the affected Atlanta area damaged by a tornado that struck last night.

“Last night’s storms struck our capital city, a center for business, tourism and government, and we are working with city officials to support them during this disaster,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “State resources are being made available to assist in the cleanup efforts. I have also spoken to FEMA Administrator David Paulison, and we will continue to coordinate closely to marshal federal, state and local resources as we recover.”

The executive order allows for state resources to be available for response and recovery activities, and calls for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) to activate the state’s Emergency Operations Plan.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency has activated the State Operations Center (SOC) to support the City of Atlanta in its response and recovery efforts to a severe weather system that hit downtown Atlanta on Friday night. The system produced one tornado, injuring at least 20 people and damaging dozens of homes and businesses.

“GEMA deployed resources to the impacted area, including six search and rescue teams, to support response efforts in collapsed structures,” said GEMA Director Charley English. “In addition, public safety agencies, utility companies and the volunteer community are continuing to work together this afternoon to begin the process of recovery.”

Joint local, state and federal assessment teams will begin work today to determine the full scope of the damage to businesses, state facilities and residences. Many state facilities were damaged, including the Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia State University. Number 2 Peachtree Street, which houses several state offices including the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Community Health, was also damaged.

The SOC will be activated until further notice to provide assistance and will continue to monitor the situation. Agencies standing by to assist local communities include GEMA - Office of Homeland Security, Georgia Building Authority, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Technology Authority, Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office, Georgia Department of Human Resources, Georgia Department of Defense and the Georgia Department of Agriculture. In addition, the American Red Cross (ARC) has opened shelters in Atlanta. Also, several adjacent counties provided mutual aid assistance.

GEMA is the lead state agency for coordination of emergency and disaster response activities. For more emergency information and updates, contact GEMA at 1-800-TRY-GEMA (1-800-879-4362) or visit

The text of Governor Perdue’s executive order is below:

Whereas: On March 14, 2008, a severe weather system, including tornadoes, moved into the State of Georgia resulting in numerous injuries and caused major destruction and damage to areas in the City of Atlanta - Fulton County; and

Whereas: The assistance of the government of the State of Georgia is necessary to protect the public health, preserve the safety of the public, keep property damage to a minimum, and to restore the social and economic welfare of the citizens in the City of Atlanta - Fulton County; and

Whereas: In light of these circumstances and in conjunction with the authority vested in the Governor by virtue of Article 3, Section 38-3-51, of the Georgia Emergency Management Act of 1981, as amended, to promulgate reasonable orders, rules and regulations as are deemed necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare, and to bring the emergency situation under control within the acknowledged limitations of the powers of the Governor.

Now, therefore, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Georgia, it is hereby

Ordered: That a State of Emergency exists in the City of Atlanta - Fulton County and that personnel and equipment resources of the State of Georgia be made available to assist in the response and recovery activities currently being undertaken in the City of Atlanta - Fulton County, and that the Georgia Emergency Management Agency activate the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan.

This 15th day of March, 2008.
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