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June 25, 2008

Governor Blagojevich pleased with President’s approval of his request to speed federal assistance to flood victims in 14 counties
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 request for federal assistance for people and businesses in 14 counties affected by recent severe storms and flooding.  The federal disaster declaration will enable affected people in the area to access temporary housing, grants or loans to help with flood-related losses, while businesses will be eligible to apply for low-interest loans. 
“I am very pleased that the President and FEMA recognized the urgency of my request and quickly approved disaster assistance for thousands of people who have been devastated by floodwaters and storms.  This assistance will help many people begin rebuilding their lives,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Illinois Congressional delegation for their strong support of our efforts to get this much-needed assistance.”
Counties approved for federal assistance include: Adams, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Hancock, Henderson, Jasper, Lake, Lawrence, Mercer and Winnebago.
On June 20, Gov. Blagojevich sent a letter to President Bush requesting an expedited federal disaster declaration for flooding in the western, southeastern and northern parts of Illinois.  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.  Flood victims will also to able to apply for low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“We will begin working immediately with FEMA to get the disaster assistance application process started so that flood victims can get needed help as quickly as possible,” said Andrew Velasquez III, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).  “We’ll also continue assessing damage to determine if other counties need to be included in the federal disaster declaration.”
Velasquez said the flood fight continues in many areas along the Mississippi River, and IEMA continues to operate the State Emergency Operations Center 24 hours a day to ensure all local emergency management requests for state assistance are quickly filled. 
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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