Bush Declares Federal Disaster in Georgia

President Bush has issued a major disaster declaration for Georgia following last weekend's stormy weather. The declaration today provides federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by tornadoes and severe storms March 14-16.

The president's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Fulton County.

A tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta Friday night, doing millions of dollars worth of damage to the World Congress Center, the city's major convention center, and other major downtown buildings.

At least 27 people were hurt but no deaths reported in the tornado, which cut a six-mile path moving along the Atlanta skyline for about 20 minutes.

Storms struck other areas of north Georgia Saturday, and at least two people were killed.

Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss urged President Bush on Tuesday to speed up the process for declaring a federal disaster. Governor Perdue has said he's asked for an expedited process so that residents and businesses can get help with debris removal and recovery.

In a joint statement with Isakson, Chambliss said, "There are certainly many areas that are going to need a helping hand, and it is imperative that the president approve this request so our communities can begin the rebuilding process."

Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Perdue, said the governor asked for the disaster declaration only Monday afternoon and appreciated the quick response from the White House. He said the governor believes that other counties hit by the storm will also be eligible for aid once federal disaster officials begin work in the state.

Brantley said, "Clearly, there is enough damage in other places that we'll qualify there as well."


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