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Hall County Government employees are spreading out across the County Wednesday to assess the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irma this week.
Approximately 30 representatives from various County departments, including Engineering, Building Inspections, Tax Assessors, Fire Services, Sheriff's Office, Parks and Leisure and others, have split into teams of two and will be taking pictures of homes and businesses in order to compile a summary of the damage to submit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for federal reimbursement.
"We have divided up the teams based on fire districts, and we will cover all 1,100 road miles in Hall County by the time the day is through," Hall County Engineer Kevin McInturff said. "We'll basically be driving around to see what appears to have incurred minor damage or major damage and what we think looks to be a total loss."
McInturff said all of those participating in the survey process will be in a County vehicle, and he said they will not be entering any homes in order to complete the assessment.
Hall County Emergency Management Agency Director David Kimbrell said the preliminary damage assessment is required in order to receive funding of any kind.
"Once the assessment is complete, we will work to put together a dollar figure to submit to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)," Kimbrell said. "Once that is approved, it will move to FEMA for consideration for federal reimbursement."
Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Higgins signed a state of emergency declaration for the County Tuesday, another requirement in order to receive federal assistance.
Kimbrell said the funding would be used to reimburse expenses the County and its municipalities incurred during the storm, including overtime pay and the cost of debris removal.
"There's a possibility that we could also be approved as a FEMA Disaster Assistance Center to help out homeowners with the cost of their clean-up, however, individual homeowners should still seek out assistance from their insurance company for any damage they sustained to their personal property," he said.
Kimbrell said City of Gainesville personnel are also participating in the assessment, surveying the properties within the city limits. He said their assessments will be merged with the ones County personnel are conducting before being submitted to state and federal authorities.
To receive the most current information regarding the County's storm response, as well as other pertinent County information, text the phrase "Hallcounty" to 888777. You can also report storm damage to GEMA directly at the link below.