January 9, 2014

FEMA Aid Would Have Helped Nine Counties Recover Expenses Following Deadly November Storms

CHICAGO – Hours after FEMA denied the state’s request for federal assistance to help local governments in nine counties recover expenses related to the deadly storms on Nov. 17, Governor Pat Quinn today announced the state will appeal the decision. While the federal government has approved millions of dollars to date of aid to help people and businesses recover, today’s decision denies aid to local governments in impacted communities throughout Illinois. 

“While we appreciate FEMA’s partnership in helping individuals and businesses recover, I’m disappointed in this decision,” Governor Quinn said. “My Administration will immediately work to develop a strong appeal that demonstrates how much this assistance is needed. The state of Illinois will continue doing everything necessary to help our hardest hit communities rebuild and recover from these historic tornadoes.”

On Dec. 19, Governor Quinn requested federal aid for local governments in Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne and Woodford counties. That request included documentation of tornado-related expenses, such as emergency protective measures, debris removal and repair or replacement of government-owned facilities incurred by the nine counties and the state.

“On behalf of the city and residents of Washington, I appreciate Governor Quinn’s continued partnership and support as we recover,” Washington Mayor Gary Manier said.

Those costs, which totaled more than $6.1 million, were compiled by a joint damage assessment conducted by FEMA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) in early December. That total is short of the federal threshold for Illinois of $17.8 million, which is based on the state’s population multiplied by $1.35. This calculation hurts the chances of aid for geographically large states with large urban centers like Illinois. 

The request also noted other impacts from the tornadoes, including winter weather conditions that will delay debris clean up and rebuilding, affected communities still dealing with costs related to flood events in April 2013 and April 2011 and public property losses that may not be completely covered by insurance. The state will make the appeal within 30 days to FEMA.

Governor Quinn has been working to ensure that the state does everything necessary to help families and communities across Illinois as they rebuild and recover from the historic natural disasters that have struck Illinois this year. To date more than $10 million in federal aid has been approved to help people and businesses affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes and severe storms. That total includes more than $2 million in federal grants to help survivors with disaster-related expenses such as temporary home rental, home repairs and replacement of damaged personal property items. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved more than $8.7 million in low-interest, long-term loans for people and businesses affected by the storms.