State and federal government agencies are joining with DeKalb County to help area businesses and residents recover from last week’s devastating flood.
Informational meetings are popping up across the county to make residents aware of the help available and how to get it. On Sept. 28, the county hosted a meeting that included officials from the governor’s office, Red Cross, federal and state emergency management agencies.
“We are in the recovery phase and we still have 24-hour hotlines open to report flooding or get assistance,” said DeKalb Director of Public Safety William Miller on Sept. 28. “On a normal day, we receive 100 calls per hour and at the peak of the flooding, we received 510 calls per hour, which is near our all-time record of 535.”
Emergency management officials dealt with the first closing since 2000 of Spaghetti Junction, where interstates 85 and 285 intersect, and the first closing of U.S. Highway 78 due to mudslides.
Many residents remain displaced after nearly 15 inches of rain fell in the county last week, which led to the flooding of several creeks and rivers. A total of 58 roads were closed during the flooding, and 15 remain closed as of last week. Four roads were washed away – Tristan Circle to Briarlake Road; Shadow Rock Drive, Redan Road and Mountain Oaks Parkway; and two bridges were destroyed by the floods.
The hardest hit areas include the Union Grove Road-Harmony Hills area, the Lakes of Kilkenny neighborhood in Lithonia, Pleasant Hill Road near DeKalb/Rockdale line and the Stone Mill-Rockbridge Road area in Lithonia in east DeKalb.
Miller said 13 people used the shelter at Clairmont Presbyterian Church. By Sunday, Sept. 27, the shelter closed and the two people who remained were taken to a shelter in Cobb County. A disaster recovery center, where residents can go for information and assistance, is expected to be opened this week but the location was not known at the time of the meeting.
FEMA representative Mark Neveau said nearly 300 FEMA workers were on hand during the flooding and about 500 will be available throughout metro Atlanta once the recovery center opens.
“Help is already available,” Neveau said Monday. “At www.disasterassistance.gove, you have access to 58 programs in 10 different departments. You can get a home inspection a day or two after you register online for assistance, and in one or two days after that you will probably receive funds. More than 7,000 people have registered and $2.4 million already has been given out.”
Monetary assistance is available for emergency home repairs, relocation and other needs.
“The damage is significant and it’s time for us to come together to take care of our neighbors and our friends,” said county CEO Burrell Ellis last week.
County commissioner Lee May hosted a meeting last week to help inform flood victims of assistance available. Representatives of the Red Cross, insurance commissioner, and various county offices were there to ask questions.
“It was a good meeting, a lot of information was given out that will help the flood victims,” May said.
The flood also affected athletic events across the county. Last Tuesday’s cross country meet was rescheduled to Thursday. Due to the flooding at Lovett, the Lovett-Cross Keys high school football game was moved from Lovett and was played Saturday, Sept. 26 at Decatur High School.
Code enforcement has been going door-to-door to assess the damage and on Monday Ellis assured residents that their neighborhoods would be assessed if they had not been already.
“There is food and water available at fire and police stations for emergency circumstances, and that will be available when the recovery center opens,” Ellis said Monday.