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January 18, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich asks President Bush for federal disaster declaration for severe flooding in Iroquois and Livingston counties
Federal disaster declaration would help people, businesses recover from flood

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today asked President Bush to declare Iroquois and Livingston counties major disaster areas as a result of flooding that devastated areas of those counties last week, damaging hundreds of homes and businesses. A federal disaster declaration would enable people and businesses affected by the floods to apply for grants and loans to help with flood losses.

"The floodwaters in Iroquois and Livingston counties forced hundreds of people from their homes last week, and as the waters have receded we’ve found that many of those homes were severely damaged," said Gov. Blagojevich. "It’s clear that federal assistance is needed to help them recover, so today I’m urging the President and FEMA to quickly approve my request for a federal disaster declaration."

Gov. Blagojevich’s request followed damage assessments conducted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The agencies documented damage to homes and businesses.

The damage assessments revealed that one home was completely destroyed in Iroquois County and nearly 120 other homes in the area received major damage. Over 360 other homes received lesser damage. In addition, it is anticipated that nearly 50 businesses in the area will apply for Small Business Administration loans as a result of the damage suffered from the floods.

If granted, the federal disaster declaration would make assistance available, including:

Assistance for individuals and households, which can include cash grants to help with temporary housing, home repairs and replacement, medical, dental, funeral, and other disaster-related costs.

Low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Hazard mitigation assistance, which could help fund projects to prevent similar flooding and storm damage in the future.

Gov. Blagojevich declared Iroquois and Livingston counties disaster areas Jan. 9. The state continues to work closely with officials in both counties to ensure they receive any assistance needed during flood response and recovery efforts. State assistance to flooded parts of the state includes:

The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield continues to coordinate with local emergency management officials to determine assistance needs.

Four Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) jon boats and seven IDNR officers assisted with the evacuation of more than 550 people in Watseka.

Three Conservation Police Officers from IDNR with jon boats assisted Iroquois County deputies with security boat patrols in Watseka.

IDNR Conservation Police also transported personnel from NICOR, so the gas company could shut off gas mains for safety purposes.

A helicopter from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Division of Aeronautics was used so state and local officials could evaluate flood conditions from above.

Six IDOT trucks, one IDOT endloader and two Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) inmate crews have been assisting with debris cleanup in Pontiac since Wednesday.

IDOT barricaded various state roads in the area due to safety concerns related to high water levels.

The state provided 10,000 sandbags to Mahomet in Champaign County and 10,000 sandbags to Kankakee County to help those areas battle rising floodwaters.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) provided 200 courses of tetanus shots to Pontiac.

Staff from IDNR’s Office of Water Resources and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) worked with local officials in the affected areas on flood projections and to determine the need for additional state assistance.

The American Red Cross, a partner with the state in the SEOC during emergencies, coordinated shelters in the affected areas, provided food to emergency workers and evacuees and cleanup kits to people whose homes had been flooded.


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