U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter visited Liberty County Wednesday morning and met with officials and personnel from the Liberty County Office of Emergency Management.
Carter said he was impressed with how quickly vital services were being restored and applauded the efforts of county, city and emergency workers.
"It is obvious they did a great job," Carter said. "First of all in preparation and planning and then in response. If you look at everything that has happened in the recovery period then you know they’ve been on top of it. And they’ve done an excellent job."
Carter said it is now time for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency to step up local efforts.
"It’s time to get GEMA and FEMA involved and do what we have to do in order to meet the thresholds," Carter said. "Liberty has been declared a disaster area by FEMA so that enables us to get debris removed."
He said the county has to meet certain thresholds before FEMA will approve individual assistance. As of right now, individual federal assistance is not available. Any reimbursement for home damage and property losses may come through personal insurance claims.
"As long as we can meet those thresholds we should be OK," he said, but noted it will take time in getting all the documents completed and filed.
Once documents are filed they need to be approved by FEMA.
In the meantime, Carter said people should still take the necessary steps in getting their homes back in order.
"I encourage everyone first of all to be safe. Secondly, make sure you look out for scammers. They are out there," Carter warned. "That is something we have to be aware of. Lastly, make sure you document everything."
He encouraged people to photograph as much of the damage as possible before removing the debris. Once you document the damage, clear up and clean the area as much as possible to make things safe.
Carter said he has visited other areas to determine the scope of need in the area.
"The First Congressional District includes all of coastal Georgia," he said. "We had some problems down in St. Simons. Folks couldn’t get back in until yesterday. They’ve had some water and sewer problems down there. The entire coast, for the most part, did OK. Sapelo Island did get hit hard. They took a big hit... But again the emergency personnel and the public officials did a great job preparing and responding."
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette thanked Carter for his interest in the local recovery.
"We can’t place a value on it," Lovette said. "The people need to see the people who represent them in their front yard. And when you go through a catastrophe like this, on this level, you need to have the people who represent you come visit and let the people know they care."