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Editorial: Federal relief for Georgia following Hurricane Idalia should’ve come sooner

On Aug. 30, Hurricane Idalia rocked VSU and the surrounding areas in South Georgia and North Florida.

Many trees and power lines were brought down, blocking roads, damaging properties and knocking out power to thousands.

While it took less than 24 hours for President Joe Biden to make federal disaster assistance available to Florida counties affected by Idalia, Lowndes County and other surrounding counties in Georgia had to wait over a week before federal disaster assistance was made available to them.

We at The Spectator believe that while the aid is more than welcome, Biden’s response to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s request for aid following Idalia was not done in a timely manner.

Federal relief following natural disasters is often used to help assist in cleanup efforts and cover the cost of emergency workers. Additionally, citizens can receive relief on a case-by-case basis.

According to the Associated Press, of the 30 counties Kemp requested aid for, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved aid for 28 counties. However, 25 of those counties only received aid on Sept. 11, more than a week and a half following Idalia making landfall.

Furthermore, just three counties were declared eligible for assistance to individuals, with Lowndes County being one of them. Still, that announcement didn’t come until Sept. 7.

The delay in Georgia counties getting approved for aid, combined with the nearly instant approval for aid in Florida, shows a distinct lack of care from the government.

After all, the damage reported was next to impossible to miss. Many photos and posts showcasing the damage in Georgia counties affected Idalia went viral on social media.

Even as of right now, there are still residents in the area without power. Roads still have debris from the storm either blocking the road or being off to the side.

Just on our campus alone, many traffic hazards still exist. For example, the intersection of Oak Street and Brookwood Drive lost their traffic lights during the storms, turning the intersection into a four-way stop and resulting in several accidents. Power lines also remain down along the sidewalk of Brookwood Drive, leaving many students concerned about walking along the path.

Another notable example is at the exit for the Oak Street Surface Lot on Sustella Avenue. Many logs block off drivers’ view of cars coming from their right.

This is just at VSU. The AP reports an estimated 80 homes were destroyed, with 835 more sustaining significant damage in Lowndes County alone.

In the surrounding counties, many of which are primarily rural areas, fewer homes were damaged, though severe damage was reported to farms. For example, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Vance Hiers, a Brooks County farmer, lost over 5,000 pecan trees due to Idalia.

It has also been reported that farmers took time out of their day immediately after the storm passed to clear trees from the roads.

We believe that there should’ve been more urgency in getting assistance for Georgia. Though it’s rare for a hurricane to come through South Georgia at the strength that Idalia did, there should’ve been a timelier response to Kemp’s request for aid.

This editorial reflects the general opinion of The Spectator.

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One comment

  1. Appreciated the facts and viewpoint of the article. Good reporting!

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