ATLANTA, Ga. -- Disasters can complicate the lives of those affected in many ways. Property damage is obvious, but disasters like the tornadoes that struck many Georgia communities May 11-12 also have less immediately visible effects. Some may lose their jobs or income due to the storms. Some may find that they need legal services to help with disaster-related issues. Some may be left stressed out and traumatized. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have worked with other groups and agencies to provide solutions for these problems.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
Workers in Bibb, Carroll, Douglas, Emanuel, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Laurens, McIntosh, and Twiggs counties who lost income as a direct result of the storms and tornadoes May 11-12 may be eligible for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Two forms of help may be available: Georgia's regular unemployment insurance and DUA. DUA is a federal program that differs from state unemployment insurance in that it provides benefits to self-employed business people, farmers, diversified farming operators, loggers, commission-paid employees and others who are not eligible for the state's program.
DUA claims may be filed at any of the Georgia Department of Labor career centers. State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond emphasized that affected workers should apply for these benefits no later than June 27, 2008. To find one of the state's 53 career centers call 866-873-5676.
Disaster Legal Services
Georgians who have experienced losses as a result of the tornadoes may have legal questions involving such matters as insurance, lost wills, landlord-tenant relations and other issues. Assisted with a grant from FEMA, the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division, Georgia Legal Services and the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation are providing Disaster Legal Services. The toll free number to obtain assistance is 866-584-8027.
Stress can surface in many forms and it often appears weeks or months after a traumatic event, mental health experts say. Stress reactions to a disaster may include anger, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares, depression, inability to concentrate, hyperactivity and/or increased alcohol or drug use.
People of all ages may exhibit these symptoms, but children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. Children especially can be vulnerable to disaster-related stress effects from interruption of daily routines and loss of the stability the home environment provides. Some of the symptoms of disaster trauma in children may be excessive fear of the dark, crying, fear of being alone and constant worry. Even second-hand exposure to the disaster through extensive media coverage can take an emotional toll.
Free crisis counseling is available to anyone who suffers from stress, anxiety or depression as a result of the tornadoes.? Individuals and families who need help should not hesitate to call the Georgia Crisis and Access line which is staffed by trained counselors 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The toll free number is 800-715-4225.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.