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*** UPDATED x1 *** FEMA denies assistance for nine counties

Thursday, Jan 9, 2014

* Ugh…

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, Governor Pat Quinn today announced 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, today’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,” 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.”

On Dec. 19, Governor 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.

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

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

*** UPDATE *** From Sens. Kirk and Durbin…

U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (R-Ill.) today expressed disappointment after receiving word that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has denied the State of Illinois’ request for Public Assistance to help nine Illinois counties recover from the deadly tornadoes that struck the state on November 17, 2013. The State of Illinois plans to appeal the decision.

“I am incredibly disappointed with FEMA’s decision to deny Illinois the necessary funding it needs to rebuild after November’s devastating tornadoes,” Sen. 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


18 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    I’m guessing the appeal will be a slam dunk, as long as the money doesn’t have to get through the House of Representatives.


  2. - walker - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    Word!

    Can’t help those states with big urban centers now, can we?


  3. - Darienite - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Paging Senators Durbin and Kirk; Paging Rep. Schock. Time to cash in a few of your chips. The voters will remember.


  4. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    Get this law changed NOW Illinois congresscritters. Its ridiculous a town of 10,000 should be penalized because it has a 6 million metropolis 2 and a half hours from it.

    Also thanks for nothing FEMA if you wind up not sending any cash to the tornado victims after doing so much after the storm to interrupt the ability of homeowners to get to their properties to gather belongings and patch up damage on standing properties in the few days after the storm that homeowners had to take care of things before winter fully set in.


  5. - mokenavince - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:18 pm:

    This law seems set up to penalize Northern States who are hit by Mother Nature.
    We will see how little clout Rep. Schock has with fellow Republicans.
    The house will require that any aid we be deducted from other aid going to Illinois.
    I would bet they want it to come out of Obamacare.


  6. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    This is ridiculous! People are hurting and need assistance. There should consideration for states that have large concentrations of population in a few pockets while the remainder is largely rural and small cities.

    Washington lost another survivor of the tornado recently. That makes three who died of injuries–one during and two later.


  7. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:39 pm:

    Perhaps those communities should offer to endorse Bruce Rauner, that seems to come with funding.


  8. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    Mike Quigley got money for the Franklin Park Fire Dept, according to his Twitter feed.

    The federal gov’t works in mysterious ways.


  9. - Emergency Man - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    I’m not getting this. The request is below our threshold, so it doesn’t seem like this is an issue.

    And I’m not sure how the per capita funding hurts us. It seems like it helps us because we’re getting the benefit of Chicago’s population even though I’m guessing they are rarely impacted by flooding and tornadoes.

    Seems like low density states would be most negatively impacted.


  10. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:55 pm:

    They have not helped in many past disasters regardless of which party is ‘in charge’


  11. - Emergency Man - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:55 pm:

    Just noticed that the assessment that this funding formula hurts Illinois is coming from the Governor’s office. I’m just not seeing it.


  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 3:58 pm:

    @Emergency Man - The state has to have more damage to public infrastructure/disaster response costs than $17.8 million to be eligible for Public Assistance. So it does hurt Illinois when there are disasters in less populated counties.


  13. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    “Time for some money problems in central Illinois.”

    “Got it.”


  14. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:14 pm:

    Emergency Man:

    Form experience with the process, a tornado in most cases does not have the costs for damage to public infrastructure and ‘add-on’ disaster response costs equal to that of a flood, hurricane, or earthquake.

    Roads, bridges, in-ground infrastructure, vehicles, government buildings, etc. tend to be only marginally affected by a tornado, but are affected to a much greater level by flood, hurricane, or earthquake.

    Those damages aren’t usually covered by private insurance.

    Also, on the disaster response time, you only get compensated at a percentage of costs incurred above normal working time. For example, if you had 10 people working 70 hours each, you only get to count the 30 hours, and then at a rate.

    A tornado just does not generate that level of time usage, especially when compared to a flood, hurricane, or earthquake. It’s very frustrating, and IMO, extremely unfair.

    But for the folks down in FL, LA, MS, or the East coast after Sandy, I’m sure they feel it’s deserved and shouldn’t be changed.


  15. - Dan Vock - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:14 pm:

    The GAO has rapped FEMA for relying too heavily on the per-capita damage ratio. The formula frustrates just about every governor, and FEMA is supposed to take into account other factors too. http://www.pewstates.org/projects/stateline/headlines/disaster-declaration-denials-exasperate-governors-85899499704


  16. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:21 pm:

    “Mike Quigley got money for the Franklin Park Fire Dept”

    I’m thinking this might be federal Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Grants, which are part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program.

    Those programs push out a lot of money each year. But the paperwork is a flat out nightmare.


  17. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 4:45 pm:

    Judgment, good info. Thanks.


  18. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Jan 9, 14 @ 7:57 pm:

    Unbelievable. Best of luck to the Governor on winning THIS one. Maybe a ring in to the POTUS is in order as to this particular Appeal, while someone in the Administration electronically passes on actual PHOTOS of the devastation wreaked on these poor fellow Citizens to the White House…!


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