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March 7, 2008

Governor Blagojevich announces Iroquois, Livingston counties approved for federal disaster assistance for people and businesses affected by January flooding
People in approved counties can apply for grants and loans; low-interest loans available for businesses

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the federal government approved his recent appeal seeking federal assistance for people and businesses in Iroquois and Livingston counties affected by severe flooding in January.  The federal disaster declaration will enable affected people in the area to apply for grants and loans to help with flood-related losses, while businesses will be eligible to apply for low-interest loans.   
“I’m glad President Bush and FEMA now recognize the severe impact this flooding had on these communities and that people need help to recover,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “This federal assistance will help many people repair their houses so they return home and begin rebuilding their lives.”
On Jan. 18, Gov. Blagojevich sent a letter to President Bush requesting a federal disaster declaration for the two counties.  On Feb. 6, FEMA notified the state that the request had been denied.   The state immediately began working with local officials in both counties to document additional damages, and an appeal was submitted to the President on Feb. 21.
During the re-assessment, an additional 520 homes were found to have been impacted by flooding, including nearly 120 homes that suffered major damage.  That included 98 additional homes in Iroquois County that sustained major damage and 21 additional homes in Livingston County with major damage.  Combined with 64 homes in Iroquois County and 54 homes in Livingston County found to have major damage during the initial assessment, the state’s appeal documents 237 homes in the two-county area that suffered major damage, and one home in Iroquois County that was destroyed.
In addition, it is anticipated that nearly 50 businesses in the area will apply for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans as a result of the damage suffered from the floods.
“This federal declaration is great news for people in these two counties who were devastated by one of the worst floods to hit this area in several decades.  We will begin working immediately with FEMA to get the application process started so that flood victims can get needed assistance as quickly as possible,” said Andrew Velasquez III, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
The federal disaster declaration will make assistance available, including assistance for individuals and households, which can include cash grants to help with temporary housing, home repairs and replacement and other disaster-related costs.  The President also approved the state’s request for low-interest loans through the SBA, as well as hazard mitigation assistance, which can help fund projects to prevent similar flooding in the future. 
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the assistance program, will be opening a toll-free telephone number (800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for hearing and speech impaired) tomorrow for victims to apply for assistance.   Registration can also be done online at www.fema.gov.


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