Congress took time out of bickering over health care reform and other issues Wednesday to recognize the deaths of Georgians lost to flooding and to pledge the federal government’s support to help the state recover.
When news that a 2-year-old Carrollton boy was swept away by floodwaters, “all of America wept,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor.
Added U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the Atlanta Democrat: “This is a terrible tragedy for the people of the state of Georgia.”
By unanimous vote, the House adopted a resolution recognizing Georgia’s losses — human and otherwise — due to flooding and pledged to provide relief services to the state.
“Today’s resolution won’t ease the pain of the deaths, injuries and losses that we’ve experienced,” Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County said in a statement. “It’s simply an acknowledgment of Georgia’s struggle and a show of solidarity from across the nation.”
Condolences aside, what Georgia and its lawmakers are really looking for from Washington is action from President Barack Obama.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue asked the president on Tuesday to declare 17 Georgia counties a federal disaster area, which would make federal funds available to the state. Perdue has requested about $16.5 million for aid to residents whose homes were damaged and for debris removal and other emergency needs.
Obama called Perdue Tuesday night to discuss Georgia’s needs.
“The president assured Gov. Perdue that his request for federal aid would receive prompt attention,” White House spokeswoman Gannet Tseggai said.
Rep. Nathan Deal, a Gainesville Republican who’s also running for governor, said federal assistance is badly needed.
“Unfortunately many of those affected by this are not covered by standard insurance,” Deal said. “Therefore I encourage the president to begin the process immediately to begin federal assistance.”