HARRISBURG – Governor Pat Quinn today revisited areas of Harrisburg that were devastated by a Feb. 29, 2012 tornado, and viewed first-hand the progress that has been made due in part to $8.8 million in state assistance following the disaster. Several state of Illinois agencies provided funding and manpower to clean up, rebuild and improve storm-ravaged areas of southern Illinois as a part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to make all possible assistance available to the area.
“When the federal government was unable to provide assistance to the five-county area, I ordered agencies under my control to help in every way possible,” Governor Quinn said. “Today, I am happy to see that Harrisburg is once again a thriving community that demonstrates the resilience and determination of southern Illinois.”
State assistance helped individuals, businesses and local governments in Gallatin, Randolph, Saline, Union and Williamson Counties recover from the deadly series of tornadoes. This assistance included:
- The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity awarded $5,529,438 in grants to the city of Harrisburg to reconstruct 10 homes, rehabilitate 32 homes, reconstruct water and sewer lines, make street repairs, repair a senior citizens center and firefighting equipment and start the planning process to improve the city’s sewage treatment plant.
- The Illinois Department of Transportation reimbursed several local governments a total of $1,752,662 for costs incurred in debris removal, infrastructure work or traffic control issues. The amounts included $1,587,686 for the City of Harrisburg, $84,518 for Williamson County, $36,235 for Saline County, $30,000 for the Village of Ridgway, $10,000 for Union County, $2,723 for Gallatin County and $1,500 for Carrier Mills.
- Illinois Department of Transportation employees performed debris removal, repair work, supply delivery and other services in the affected areas. The value of the 3,259 hours of equipment use and 3,072 hours of employee labor has been placed at $286,506.
- The Illinois Housing Development Authority committed $1 million in low-interest loans to renovate or replace 24 damaged homes.
- The Illinois Emergency Management Agency awarded local governments $250,361 to reimburse them for 75 percent of eligible cleanup and recovery costs. This included $151,593 to the City of Harrisburg, $47,332 to Williamson County, $27,845 to Saline County, $19,955 to the Village of Ridgway and $3,635 to the Egyptian Health Department.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Southern Illinois is home to some of the most kind-hearted folks in the state, and that kindness was on full display after the tornado struck,” State Senator Forby (D-Benton) said. “Friends, neighbors and volunteers from all over the region came together to help clean-up and rebuild.”
“We appreciate the governor’s attention to the region and the residents of Harrisburg, especially after his request for federal disaster relief was denied,” State Representative Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) said. “State resources were deployed on the ground to respond to the damage and helped assist the many residents who were without power or homes. I also appreciate the outstanding work of the Red Cross Little Egypt Network, which took the lead and helped to coordinate local volunteer efforts in our time of need.”
Governor Quinn ordered the state assistance to address the widespread destruction caused by the storms in late February 2012 after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied his request for federal disaster aid. Despite the Governor’s state disaster declaration, the southern Illinois storms did not qualify for federal disaster aid based on existing guidelines.
“Governor Quinn told me that he had not forgotten southern Illinois and Harrisburg, and that he would continue to get help for us,” Harrisburg Mayor Ron Crank said. “He kept his word, and thanks to Governor Quinn and his staff, Harrisburg has been put back together.”
"We are honored to have Governor Quinn back in Harrisburg,” former Harrisburg Mayor Eric C. Gregg said. “He has been a true friend to our community and area, and we want to personally thank him for helping us put this community back together and moving us forward. Without Governor Quinn's leadership and commitment to Harrisburg and southern Illinois in the aftermath of the 2012 Leap Day Tornado, we would still be picking up the pieces. We are back, thanks to Governor Quinn and his great staff.”