Hours after FEMA denied the state’s request for federal assistance to help local governments in nine counties recover expenses related to the deadly storms on Nov. 17, Gov. Pat Quinn announced Thursday the state will appeal the decision.
While the federal government has approved millions of dollars to date of aid to help people and businesses recover, last week’s decision denies aid to local governments in impacted communities throughout Illinois.
“While we appreciate FEMA’s partnership in helping individuals and businesses recover, I’m disappointed in this decision,” Quinn said. “My administration will immediately work to develop a strong appeal that demonstrates how much this assistance is needed. The state of Illinois will continue doing everything necessary to help our hardest hit communities rebuild and recover from these historic tornadoes.”
On Dec. 19, Quinn requested federal aid for local governments in Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne and Woodford counties. That request included documentation of tornado-related expenses, such as emergency protective measures, debris removal and repair or replacement of government-owned facilities incurred by the nine counties and the state.
Those costs, which totaled more than $6.1 million, were compiled by a joint damage assessment conducted by FEMA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) in early December. That total is short of the federal threshold for Illinois of $17.8 million, which is based on the state’s population multiplied by $1.35. This calculation hurts the chances of aid for geographically large states with large urban centers like Illinois.
The request also noted other impacts from the tornadoes, including winter weather conditions that will delay debris clean up and rebuilding, affected communities still dealing with costs related to flood events in April 2013 and April 2011 and public property losses that may not be completely covered by insurance.
Also expressing disappointment were local U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin and well as U.S. Rep. John Shimkus.
“I am incredibly disappointed with FEMA’s decision to deny Illinois the necessary funding it needs to rebuild after November’s devastating tornadoes,” Kirk said. “Having seen firsthand the destruction that our state has suffered, and having met countless volunteers and families affected by these 24 tornadoes, those families and the hard working members of our community deserve the opportunity to rebuild and recover from the deadly storms. I fully support Governor Quinn’s appeal of this decision.”
“This was some of the worst storm damage I have ever seen,” said Durbin. “While the individual assistance designation that the counties received just before Christmas will help families and businesses recover, a public assistance designation is desperately needed to help local governments rebuild the infrastructure that will make these communities whole again. I am disappointed in today’s decision, but I will support Governor Quinn’s appeal and work with the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation to identify other opportunities for federal assistance.”
“I am disappointed that the disaster declaration for public assistance was denied,” stated Shimkus. “I know that the affected communities had enormous expenses in cleaning up and getting basic services back up and running after the tornadoes. I will support the state if they decide to appeal this decision.”
The state will make the appeal within 30 days to FEMA.