FEMA Aid Appeal

Within hours of FEMA denying Illinois’ request for federal assistance, that would help local government in nine counties recover from the expenses from the November 17th tornadoes and storms, Governor Pat Quinn announced that the state would appeal the decision. 

Though the federal government has denied help to local governments, they have already approved millions of dollars of aid to help people and businesses recover from the storms. 

“While we appreciate FEMA’s partnership in helping individuals and businesses recover, I’m disappointed in this decision.” Governor 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.”

Governor Quinn had requested federal aid for the local governments of Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermillion, Washington, Wayne, and Woodford counties on December 19th. The request for federal aid required documentation of all the tornado related expenses that included such things as emergency protective measures, debris removal, the repair or replacement of government-owned facilities, and more. 

Washington Mayor Gary Manier thanked Governor Quinn in statement for his continued effort to help those effected by the deadly tornadoes. 

“On behalf of the city and residents of Washington, I appreciate Governor Quinn’s continued partnership and support as we recover.” Mayor Manier said. 

In a letter to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, FEMA said that a review “determined that the damage to the infrastructure from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant the implementation of the public assistance program.” 

A joint damage assessment, done by FEMA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in early December, calculated the costs to the local governments at $6.1 million dollars, which is short of the $17.8 million federal threshold for Illinois. 

The Federal threshold is calculated by taking the states population and multiplying it by $1.35. Governor Quinn’s office was critical of this policy, as it hurts the chance of aid for geographically large states like Illinois that also have large and densely populated urban centers. 

According to Governor Quinn’s office, since the November 17th tornadoes and storms occurred, more than $10 million in federal aid has been approved to help individuals and businesses affected. Of the $10 million, more than $2 million has gone to help survivors with various disaster-related expenses that include temporary home rental, home repairs, and replacement of damaged personal property items. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration has also stepped up to help businesses that were affected by the storms by approving more than $8.7 million in low interest, long term loans. 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that FEMA has denied aid to Illinois in the wake of devastating tornadoes. In 2012 FEMA denied disaster funding to Harrisburg, Illinois after a storm damaged 100 homes and killed 7 people. Governor Quinn appealed their initial denial of aid, but was denied a second time as well. 

The state will make its’ appeal to FEMA within the required 30 days.