President Donald Trump declared a federal state of emergency in Georgia on Friday ahead of Hurricane Irma’s expected landfall in the Southeast.
The move unlocks special federal resources to be sent to Georgia, including extra money, debris removal and protective measures aimed at supplementing the state’s efforts.
Specifically, Trump’s designation authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to provide equipment and resources to the region and coordinate all disaster relief efforts.
“This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property, and ensure public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe,” the White House said.
The move came less than an hour after six Republican members of Georgia’s congressional delegation wrote to the president requesting that he expedite consideration of the emergency designation requested by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this week. .
“In Georgia, we want to take all necessary measures to mitigate the potential destruction of Hurricane Irma and to aid in the recovery and rebuilding process,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Trump on Friday. “We cannot afford to have a repeat of Hurricane Matthew when families and businesses were forced to wait for assistance from the federal government.”
U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler; Drew Ferguson, R-West Point; Austin Scott, R-Tifton; and Rick Allen, R-Evans, signed onto the letter, as did Georgia U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue.
Deal declared a state of emergency on Wednesday for six counties along the Georgia coast. He later expanded the designation to include 30 eastern counties and ordered a mandatory evacuation of all areas east of I-95.
Irma, a Category 4 storm with winds topping 185 miles an hour, is one of the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic. It devastated islands across the Caribbean this week, battering the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos on Friday as it tracked toward South Florida. At least 14 fatalities have been reported.
Metro Atlanta is expected to take a direct hit from Irma on Monday and Tuesday under current models, according to Channel 2 Action News.
On Friday morning, the U.S. House approved more than $15 billion in emergency funding for the states ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, sending the bill to Trump’s desk for his signature.
Trump declared a federal state of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands earlier this week.