SPRINGFIELD – March 16, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today said his office will submit an appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Friday morning asking the agency to reconsider its denial of the state’s request for federal disaster assistance for five Southern Illinois counties affected by deadly tornadoes on Feb. 29. Governor Quinn said the appeal will include additional information on damages to homes as well as socioeconomic information that will illustrate why recovery will be difficult, if not impossible, for many people without federal assistance.
“People in Harrisburg, Ridgway and the other communities torn apart by the tornadoes are working hard to put their lives back together,” Governor Quinn said. “For some, a full recovery may be impossible unless they receive the grants and low-interest loans that are only available through a federal disaster declaration.”
Governor Quinn requested federal disaster assistance on March 7 following a damage assessment conducted by IEMA, FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and local officials. The original assessment documented 426 damaged residences: 104 homes in Gallatin, Randolph, Saline, Union and Williamson counties that had been destroyed, 50 homes with major damage, and 272 others that were also damaged. State officials were notified March 10 the request had been denied.
On Thursday, personnel from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and FEMA were again in Harrisburg and Ridgway to visit homes recently identified as being damaged by the tornadoes and gather additional information about damages to homes previously assessed. IEMA also worked with several state agencies to compile information about the economic climate in Harrisburg and Ridgway, the communities most impacted by the tornado.
The state of Illinois successfully appealed a denied request for federal assistance in February 2008 after flooding in Iroquois and Livingston counties severely damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes.
Illinois was one of three Midwest states that were denied federal assistance following a series of tornadoes in late February and early March and is the only state to appeal the denial. Governor Quinn personally surveyed the damage in Southern Illinois following the storm. Since FEMA’s denial, the Governor has talked with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and members of Illinois’ congressional delegation to bolster the state’s strong case for the appeal. Governor Quinn has also continued to work closely with federal officials, and has been in touch with Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano this week in his efforts to secure federal assistance.
If the state’s appeal is approved, a federal disaster declaration would make assistance available to those affected by the tornadoes and storms, including grants to individuals and households to help with temporary housing, home repairs or replacement and other disaster-related expenses, as well as low-interest SBA loans to residents and businesses.
Additional information about the state’s response efforts is available at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.