City to get funds for flooding

COVINGTON -- The city of Covington has been approved for approximately $22,000 in disaster relief funding stemming from late September's flooding, Transportation Manager Billy Skinner said.

The federal government will pay 75 percent, with a 15 percent match from the city and a 10 percent match from the state.

The money will primarily go to refund the city for repairs and labor associated with replacement of electrical transmission poles and wires at Macedonia Church Road, Oak Street at Conyers Street, and Macedonia at Lanier Drive. Floodwaters and wind caused damage to 500 feet of wires and three poles, according to the city's application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In other flood-related news, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 19 Georgia counties as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by severe storms and flooding that occurred in September. Though they are not part of the primary disaster area, farm operators in Newton and Rockdale counties do qualify for assistance because they are contiguous to counties that are included.

Farm operators in Newton and Rockdale are eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency. Farmers have eight months, as of Dec. 4, to apply for loans to cover part of their actual losses.

"President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Georgia, and we want to help," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. "This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to corn, cotton, soybeans and forage, as well as vegetable and fruit crops."

The USDA has also made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Uninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. The state Farm Service Agency in Athens can be reached by calling 706-546-2266. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.