SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today requested that President Bush approve a Federal disaster declaration for Wayne County as a result of damage caused by tornadoes and a severe weather system that moved through the area earlier this week. The tornadoes caused extensive damage to homes, businesses, farms, local roads and other properties in the communities of Fairfield, Sims, Wayne City and Keenes.
“I am asking the President to consider approving a Federal disaster declaration so that individuals, businesses and local governments can begin to repair and rebuild their communities,” Governor Ryan said. “After personally touring the area on Monday and reviewing the results of the damage assessment conducted yesterday by state and Federal officials, I have determined that this assistance is essential to speed up recovery efforts.”
The Governor decided to request the Presidential declaration based on more than $4.9 million in damage and recovery costs that were identified in the county-wide damage assessment conducted Wednesday by representatives from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Those costs determined by the damage assessment teams included $2.5 million in public infrastructure damage and recovery costs, $1.7 million in damage to homes and $700,000 to businesses. Thirty-five homes were destroyed and 16 suffered major damage in the tornado that struck Wayne County late Sunday afternoon. The tornado caused one death and 42 injures, 13 of which were classified as critical injuries.
The assessment determined the county meets the criteria for an SBA Disaster Declaration, which would provide long-term, low-interest loans to victims. However, the SBA declaration won’t be made until the President and FEMA reach a decision on the Governor’s request for a Presidential declaration. The Presidential declaration could provide recovery grants to victims and as much as 75 percent reimbursement for public infrastructure recovery costs in addition to the SBA loans. The request includes the Public Assistance Program, Individual Assistance Programs, Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, Individual and Family Grants and Hazard Mitigation Assistance.
IEMA is coordinating the response efforts by State agencies including the Illinois State Police, the departments of Corrections, Natural Resources, Public Health, Transportation, Insurance, Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies are involved with response and recovery activities such as road closures, traffic and access control, security, debris removal, and counseling services to disaster victims. The Illinois Commerce Commission coordinated the restoration of power with the utility companies, and the American Red Cross provided shelter and feeding service for the emergency workers and the disaster victims, and have opened a disaster assistance center.