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What, exactly, do FEMA and GEMA do when disaster strikes?

It’s the season of the year when disasters seem to become more common in the Southeast due to hurricane season, but really weather and climate disasters can happen any time of year (remember ice storms and Snowmageddon?). Often when these events occur, a disaster is declared, sometimes well in advance of the storm. But what does this mean? Generally, it’s a way of activating government emergency programs to release supplies, equipment, and personnel to get to the place where the disaster is expected to occur. Both federal (FEMA) and state (GEMA, in Georgia) disasters may be declared since emergency supplies can come from either state or federal sources. You can read more in Atlanta magazine here.

The flooded streets of New Orleans, Sept. 4, 2005.