ATLANTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – As Governor Nathan Deal’s emergency session continues, lawmakers are beginning to make progress on South Georgia support funding.
Members of the State House of Representatives passed Governor Nathan Deal’s multi billion dollar budget amendment for relief efforts in South Georgia on Thursday.
“We’re asking that you increase the governor’s emergency fund to $69.3 million–or by that amount rather and that relates to a lot of things,” he said.
This was after Deal spoke in front of the state’s appropriations committee. He shared the extent of the damage from Hurricane Michael and the staggering numbers.
“I’m told there were 2.4 million acres of forest land that has been destroyed, $761 million loss in timber and that would take about 1.2 million log trucks to remove,” he explained during a committee hearing.
Governor Nathan Deal told state lawmakers on Wednesday amending the state’s budget by nearly $470 million is his solution to helping state agencies who’ve exhausted their resources.
“We have already incurred costs. There are 11 state agencies that have contributed to disaster response,” he continued.
That number would also include covering the costs for local governments that are trying to rebuild.
“Our GEMA and Homeland Security Agency estimate $213.8 million in direct expenses related to the federal emergency response, to which the state is responsible for $42 million of that cost,” he said.
Most of the cost, he says, is for debris removal at $82 million. Deal then warned what could happen if debris from the mess isn’t taken care of.
“We could see a forest fire that would be equivalent to maybe what we see in California because of all the dead trees and limbs that are on the ground should something like that happen which would be a double disaster. ”
Thought the burden is now on the state to cover costs, Deal says luckily they can afford it. That’s mainly due to Georgia’s revenue streams coming in higher and higher.
Now that House members have voted on and passed the amended budget 162 to 1, it’ll go to the Senate. District 141 State Rep. Allen Peake says they’ll likely vote on it on Monday.
We’ll be back in Atlanta on Monday covering the legislature and outcome of the special session. Be sure to stay up to date on what’s happening with us here on 41NBC.