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County totaling storm cleanup costs for reimbursement
Public works cleans 333 dump trucks worth of debris from streets
dead leaves
A dead tree limb downed by Tropical Storm Irma rests in a yard in downtown Dawsonville Oct. 3.

Dawson County officials have begun calculating the cleanup cost of removing debris from streets that was left behind when then-Tropical Storm Irma came through the county Sept. 11.

County Manager David Headley reported at the board of commissioner’s Sept. 28 work session that 63 county and state roadways were impacted or blocked by trees and/or utility lines because of the storm. There were more than 7,000 power outages across the county as a result.

“To date, our Public Works team has cleaned approximately 115 miles of right of way – averaging two trees per mile of road,” Headley said.

There are about 5,000 cubic yards, or more than 200 tons of debris currently at the county’s EPD-approved temporary debris site at the transfer station, Headley said. All of the debris was hauled by local contract haulers.

Right of way cleanup was completed Sept. 29. According to Headley, because the county completed the cleanup within a 30-day window, the county should be entitled to an 85 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

The preliminary damage assessment that has been submitted to FEMA is between $80,000 and $100,000.

Statewide insured losses

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens reported last week that the estimated insured losses the state incurred from Hurricane Irma has exceeded $300 million.

“Our preliminary estimate today is $336 million in damage across Georgia,” Hudgens said. “That figure may rise as new claims are submitted.”

As of Sept. 28, approximately 56,491 claims have been filed with various insurance companies, and policyholders have received $77,467,340 in settlement payments. The majority of the reported damage was related to homeowners insurance.

Hudgens recommended that consumers with damage from Hurricane Irma take the following steps to begin the claims-filing process:

●     Work with your insurance company. Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file a claim. Keep a diary of all conversations with insurance companies, creditors or relief agencies.

●     Maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect.

●     Ask the adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer.

●     Be wary of contractors who demand upfront payment before work is initiated or payment in full before work is completed. If the contractor needs payment to buy supplies, go with the contractor and pay the supplier directly.

●     Get more than one bid. Ask for at least three references. Check with the Better Business Bureau about the contractor. Ask for proof of necessary licenses, building permits, insurance, and bonding. Record the license plate number and driver’s license number of the contractor.

●     If there is a disagreement about a claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently.

●     If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement.

●     If you believe you have treated unfairly in getting a claim paid, please contact us toll-free at 1(800) 656-2298. Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.