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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / The remains of Jordan Ray's home are seen on Monday, April 13, 2020 in Chatsworth, Ga. Deadly storms tore through Northwest Georgia early Monday morning leaving six people confirmed dead in Murray County.

Murray County, Georgia, will not be getting any federal relief funding for the damage caused by the deadly tornado that swept through the county on Easter and killed seven people.

Murray County Commissioner Greg Hogan said Tuesday he had been waiting for three weeks to hear from the Federal Emergency Management Administration on a decision.

On Friday morning, Hogan got the call and the notice that President Donald Trump refused to declare Murray County a disaster site.

"It broke my heart," he said.

Hogan said the estimated value of destroyed and damaged property did not reach the minimal level of $7 million to qualify for the federal government to help.

Dewayne Bain, emergency management director for Murray County, said a total of 254 homes and buildings were affected, including 62 that were totally destroyed and 36 that had major damage. Bain said the tax assessor is compiling a list to get a full financial damage report.

On April 25, Trump issued a Tennessee disaster declaration freeing up federal assistance for Hamilton, Bradley and six other counties affected by the tornado.

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Overnight storms kill 8 in Murray County

In Hamilton County, preliminary property assessments showed more than 1,000 structures were damaged, with at least 344 completely destroyed and at least $200-300 million in damage.

If Trump's administration and FEMA had declared Murray County a disaster site, federal funding would have been made available to those affected by the tornado.

The federal aid would have supplemented state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding.

Individual assistance to residents in Tennessee included grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of a disaster.

The fact that residents in Murray County who were affected mostly lived in trailer parks and mobile homes compared to the homes in Hamilton, Bradley and other counties in Tennessee was not lost on Hogan.

"That's a lot of the issue, those million-dollar homes, when they get blown away it adds up in a hurry," he said. "I'm glad they're getting the help. But some of the people down here didn't even have insurance. It's a shame."

Bain added several businesses were damaged or destroyed in Tennessee, which also adds to the overall destruction cost.

"Most of the devastation [in Murray County] was in the mobile home parks, and the dollar amount just didn't add up," Hogan said. "I was hoping for our people to get the money."

Hogan said local churches have helped in collecting and distributing donations for their neighbors.

When Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency for the Murray County storm, that freed up state resources and other crews to help with the cleanup. Hogan said that was a "major, major help" in cleaning up after the storm.

Hogan said Kemp has 30 days to appeal the decision by Trump's administration.

He added that U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler's team reached out to him about people applying directly to FEMA and GEMA for assistance grants. Hogan said he would make those contacts available on the county's website.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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