ATLANTA -- In a rare move, Georgia's governor has called a special legislative session to tackle the economic impact of Hurricane Michael just weeks earlier.
Gov. Nathan Deal announced on Tuesday that he had notified House Speaker David Ralston and Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle of his plans to call for the special session which will convene on Nov. 13.
“Georgia was severely impacted by Hurricane Michael and many communities across our state sustained heavy financial losses,” said Deal. “In response, I will ask the General Assembly to take immediate action and lead the way in spurring rapid economic recovery for southwest Georgia communities."
The Georgia constitution gives the governor the power to convene special sessions as he deems fit - however, the action is extremely unusual. However, Ralston stood behind the move given the circumstance.
“I support Governor Deal’s call for a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly," he said. "We owe it to the citizens and local governments impacted by Hurricane Michael to continue supporting their recovery efforts. As such, we will need to amend our FY 2019 budget to fund the work ahead."
The decision to convene the meeting comes as southwest Georgia continues to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Michael, which came ashore a massive Category 4 hurricane in Florida and was still powerful enough in Georgia to obliterate many crops.
Many farmers weren't even halfway through their harvest when Michael rumbled through - and in most cases, they won't have a chance to recover that loss this year.
The devastation to state crops was so severe that it drew the attention of Vice President Mike Pence who traveled around the area of the state and even spoke to farmers in Moultrie, Georgia.
He described the damage as monumental saying that Michael had caused $2 billion worth of damage to Georgia's cotton, pecan and peanut crop.
So far, 13 Georgia counties have been approved for federal individual assistance to help deal with the aftermath for farmers, businesses and homeowners.
Additionally, 31 counties have already been approved for public assistance with emergency work and debris removal.
“As we petition the federal government for recovery assistance, I know that this Special Session will also demonstrate both the severity of the storm’s impact and the sincerity of Georgia’s commitment to the recovery process," Ralston said in a written statement. "I want to thank all of our federal partners for their assistance thus far – particularly President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary Perdue."
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in these counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.