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GEMA responds to disasters quickly

7:47 PM, Apr 28, 2011   |    comments
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GRIFFIN, GA -- When disaster strikes, one of the first responders to arrive is the Georgia Emergency Management Agency -- but homeowners often wonder just what GEMA does. 

While FEMA, the Federal Emergency Agency, supplies the money, GEMA provides the coordination between state agencies, local governments and key charities to make sure homeowners get what they need fast.

After disasters, homeowners like Griffin resident Brenda English are still in shock and have no idea where to turn.

"It was horrible. Devasting. Never seen anything like it," she said.

GEMA comes in to steer people like English in the right direction.

"GEMA makes sure that the resources are put where they are needed the most, so that we don't have overlapping agencies. We have the help going directly to the people. It's much more efficient and effective that way and we do it right away," said GEMA executive Amy Henderson.

Coordination with organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army and with local governments insure quick distribution of water, household goods, clothing and also makes sure provisions are made for shelter.

GEMA handles the distribution of federal funds so homeowners can rebuild and reestablish their lives.

"GEMA sets up field offices where individual homeowners can come in and apply for federal assistance," Henderson said.

The state agency acts as the clearing house that handles federal disaster funds throughout Georgia, once the state is declared a national disaster area by the White House -- which has not happened yet.

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