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May 4, 2013

Flood Damage Assessment Teams Survey More Than 2,500 Homes in First Five Days
Teams Now in Cook, LaSalle and Will Counties

SPRINGFIELD – Since Monday afternoon, five damage assessment teams have documented flood damage to more than 2,500 homes in Cook, DuPage, Lake and LaSalle counties.  The teams include personnel from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and local officials.

With the assessment process complete in DuPage County and the City of Chicago, one assessment team on Friday began surveying damage in the LaSalle County town of Marseilles, a community especially hard-hit by flooding.  On Saturday, two teams began assessing damage in Will County, while two teams continue working in Cook County.  The five teams are expected to continue working in Cook, LaSalle and Will counties on Sunday.

The damage assessments are a critical step in the state’s efforts to seek federal disaster assistance for people whose homes were damaged and possessions destroyed by surging flood waters following heavy rainfall in mid-April. 

“With nearly 50 counties included in the state disaster declaration, these teams have a lot of ground to cover,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “They are moving quickly but deliberately to gather crucial information needed to show how desperately federal assistance is needed to help people rebuild their lives.”

Monken explained that the first required step for seeking federal disaster assistance was accomplished when Governor Quinn declared counties state disaster areas.

The next step was, or is being, conducted by local emergency management officials as they collect initial damage information from affected people in their communities. That information is needed before the preliminary damage assessment (PDA) teams begin surveying damage in a county.   The initial information helps PDA teams streamline their process by pinpointing neighborhoods where they can document the most significant damage.
The PDA teams categorize flood damage they see as destroyed, major, minor and affected, as required by FEMA. 

In order to request federal assistance, Governor Quinn will submit a request letter that includes the damage reports as well as information about the overall impact of the disaster on affected communities.  That information could include such factors as level of insurance, length of time people were displaced, number of people assisted by social service agencies, impact of road closures and power outages, unemployment rates and more.

Monken said the state wants to compile the strongest case possible before a request is submitted. 

“We’re closely monitoring progress of the teams each day to see where we stand with both number of homes with major damage and the impact this disaster has had on communities,” Monken said.  “We’re working hard to build an irrefutable case for federal assistance.”

The state could initially submit a request for a portion of the affected counties where documentation has been gathered, while continuing the PDA process in the remaining counties.  If the initial request is approved, the state could request other counties be added to that declaration as damage assessments and information gathering are completed.

Once Governor Quinn’s request is submitted to FEMA, the federal agency will review the documentation and notify the state of its decision.

If a federal disaster declaration is approved, people in federally declared counties would be eligible to apply for grants and low-interest loans to help them replace or repair flood-damaged homes and belongings. 

On May 6, teams of personnel from IEMA and FEMA will begin meeting with local government officials to document their flood-related expenses.  That information will be used to support a state request for a federal Public Assistance declaration, which would enable local and state government agencies to recover up to 75 percent of their eligible expenses.

In order to qualify for the declaration, state and local expenses must meet a per capita impact threshold indicator of more than $17.57 million, which is calculated by multiplying the state’s population by $1.37.  In addition, to be included in the declaration, each county must meet its threshold based on county population multiplied by $3.45.

Governor Pat Quinn this week added Monroe County to the list of counties declared state disaster areas due to widespread flooding, bringing the statewide total of state-declared counties to 49.  Flooding in the southwestern Illinois county has damaged critical infrastructure, including roads and bridges.


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