Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Georgia Monday after a severe storm system ripped through the state Sunday night and early Monday, generating high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes.
At least seven people were killed in Georgia, including five at two mobile home parks near Chatsworth.
As of Monday afternoon, 59,000 Georgians still were without electricity.
“It is devastating,” Kemp said Monday afternoon after touring storm damage in Murray County. “It looked like a bomb went off in two neighborhoods I visited.”
The governor said the new state of emergency will coexist with the statewide public health emergency he first declared last month and renewed last week related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The responses by the state to this state of emergency for storm damage and the public health state of emergency should both proceed simultaneously, without one impeding the other,” an executive order the governor issued Monday stated.
Monday’s executive order will remain in effect for 10 days, until April 23. The order authorizes the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to bring “all “resources” of the state to bear to respond to the affected areas and help with recovery.
The order also suspended the federal rules limiting the hours commercial truck drivers can be on the roads in order to prevent disruptions in supplies of gasoline and diesel fuel, emergency supplies, food and other agricultural products and the removal of storm debris.
It also allows trucks to exceed the usual legal weight, height and length restrictions, subject to oversize permits issued by the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
“We are praying for those who lost loved ones overnight and the families dealing with severe storm damage.” Kemp said. “In coordination with private-sector partners, multiple state agencies – including the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Department of Public Safety, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, and Georgia Forestry Commission – are working hard to restore power, clear debris, and provide necessary assistance to families across the state.”
Kemp said Pete Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has offered the federal government’s assistance in the recovery.