St. Clair could get disaster funding

St Clair County Highway Department crews help clear storm debris in St. Libory after the early July storms. (St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency photo)

Illinois’ congressional representatives are urging President Joe Biden to grant a federal disaster declaration for St. Clair and 26 other Central Illinois counties in the wake of severe summer weather.

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth led every member of the Illinois congressional delegation in sending a letter to Biden urging the White House to grant Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s request for federal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration to help 27 Central Illinois counties recover from storm damage.

From late June to early July, severe storms passed through Central Illinois producing heavy rainfall, flash flooding, hail, tornadoes and straight-line winds, as well as five tornadoes with winds exceeding 100 miles per hour.

“We write in support of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s request for federal assistance for the state of Illinois to help 27 counties recover from storm damage that occurred from late June to early July,” wrote the lawmakers.

“Governor Pritzker has indicated that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and local governments,” the lawmakers wrote. “He requests Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance to aid recovery in the following counties: Adams, Calhoun, Christian, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Greene, Hancock, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, McDonough, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Piatt, Pike, Sangamon, Scott, St. Clair, Vermillion, Warren and Washington.”

The lawmakers continued their letter, emphasizing the severity of the storms that hit Central Illinois during June and July.

“A derecho yielding five tornadoes also passed through Central Illinois, with winds exceeding 100 miles per hour in several counties. This severe weather resulted in significant power outages and roadway interruptions due to flooding. Subsequent damage has impacted homeowners, businesses and local governments” the lawmakers wrote. “As such, the governor seeks timely federal assistance from FEMA.”

Besides Durbin and Duckworth, the letter was signed by U.S. Reps. Mike Bost, Niki Budzinski, Sean Casten, Danny Davis, Bill Foster, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Jonathan Jackson, Robin Kelly, Raja Krisnamoorthi, Darin LaHood, Mary Miller, Mike Quigley, Delia Ramirez, Jan Schakowsky, Bradley Schneider, Eric Sorensen and Lauren Underwood.

The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency noted that 8,500 Ameren customers in the county were without power after the early July storms.

St. Libory had large trees uprooted during the storms.

Fayetteville and St. Libory had multiple power lines down and dozens of utility crews in the communities to restore power in the aftermath of the storms.

An apartment building on the 1600 block of State Street in East St. Louis had most of its roof blown off.

East St. Louis and the Salvation Army set up a temporary shelters at City Hall and the East St. Louis Library for esidents of the apartment building. None of the apartment building’s residents were injured in the storm.

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern noted that he spent time after the storms driving through the county with Emergency Director Herb Simmons surveying the storm damage. Simmons said that damage was widespread throughout the county.