SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today asked President Bush to declare several tornado-ravaged Illinois counties as federal disaster areas. A federal disaster declaration would enable people, businesses and local governments in areas hit by severe storms last weekend to apply for grants and loans to help with storm-related losses. Counties in the Governor’s request include Greene, Logan, Morgan, Randolph, Sangamon, and Scott.
“Last weekend, severe storms and tornadoes swept through central Illinois leaving behind a heartbreaking path of destruction. Thousands lost their electricity, their homes and their businesses. We know that the road to recovery will be a long one, so today I asked President Bush for federal assistance,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Gov. Blagojevich’s request followed damage assessments conducted this week by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The agencies documented extensive damage to homes, businesses and public property, along with excessive costs to local governments for cleanup and recovery efforts. Several state government buildings in Springfield were also damaged in the storm, and some state workers had to be relocated until those facilities can be repaired.
The damage assessment found that more than 60 homes were destroyed in the six counties, including 40 in Sangamon County. Nearly 130 homes in those areas received major damage, meaning repairs are needed before residents can return to their homes. Another 940 homes received minor damage from the storms. In addition, 80 businesses suffered major damage and another 160 received minor damage.
If granted, the federal disaster declaration would make assistance available, including:
- Assistance for individuals and households, which can include cash grants to help with temporary housing, home repairs and replacement, medical, dental, funeral, and other disaster-related costs.
- Low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Farm Service Agency.
- Other assistance to individuals such as crisis and legal counseling and unemployment benefits.
- Assistance to local and state governments for extraordinary costs for response and recovery to the disaster, including emergency work, debris removal from public roads, and repair or replacement of infrastructure.
Following a tour of devastation in Springfield Monday, Gov. Blagojevich declared seven counties state disaster areas and pledged state resources to assist affected communities with recovery efforts. State assistance to date has included:
IEMA operated the State Emergency Operations Center throughout the week to direct state resources to communities requesting assistance. IEMA staff also sent liaisons to local Emergency Operations Centers to coordinate assistance requests.
- Nearly 900 inmates from the Department of Corrections assisting with debris removal.
- Fifty trucks, seven loaders, three track hoes, two tub grinders, two light platforms, two generators, one air curtain burner and one bulldozer from the Department of Transportation to assist with debris removal and disposition.
- The Department of Human Services caseworkers have processed approximately 1,500 cases to help storm victims restore food stamp money to LINK cards for people who lost food they had previously purchased. DHS is also helping connect people to all community services.
- The DHS HELPLINE, 800-568-0446, has fielded questions from nearly 300 people since it was established Monday afternoon.
- The Illinois State Police have provided security assistance.
- The Illinois Department of Public Health arranged for porta potties to accommodate large numbers of volunteers expected this weekend in Springfield.