SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today asked President Bush to reconsider the federal government’s denial of federal disaster assistance for people and businesses in Iroquois and Livingston counties affected by severe flooding in January. The Governor had requested a federal disaster declaration for the two-county area on Jan. 18 to give flood victims access to federal grants and low-interest loans to help with home repairs and other flood-related losses. On Feb. 7, the federal government informed the state that the request had been denied.
“More than a month after flooding forced hundreds of people from their homes, many families still can’t return because they can’t afford to make the necessary repairs,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We were disappointed when our request for federal assistance was denied. I urge President Bush to review the new information we’re submitting showing just how extensive flood damage is in Iroquois and Livingston Counties and quickly approve our appeal so people can repairs and return to their homes.”
A federal disaster declaration would enable affected people in the area to apply for grants and loans to help with storm-related losses, while businesses would be eligible to apply for low-interest loans.
To support an appeal, personnel from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) were dispatched to the area last week to work with local officials and representatives from FEMA to determine if there were additional flood damages that weren’t included in the state’s original request. During that assessment, an additional 520 homes were found to have been impacted by flooding, including nearly 120 homes that suffered major damage. That included 98 additional homes in Iroquois County that sustained major damage and 21 additional homes in Livingston County with major damage.
“Many of the same homes that were flooded in early January flooded once again in early February, compounding an already disastrous situation,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “Frigid temperatures that froze floodwaters inside basements and around foundations also contributed to the damages. During our reassessment last week, we found several homes that originally appeared to have minor damages, but the additional flooding and cold temperatures wrecked havoc and worsened the damage.”
The initial damage assessment was conducted during the week of Jan. 14 and found one home was completely destroyed in Iroquois County and nearly 120 other homes in the area received major damage. More than 360 other homes were found to have been impacted. In addition, nearly 50 businesses suffered flood damage, and several of those remain closed more than a month later.
The state is also seeking Disaster Unemployment Assistance to help people left without jobs due to the flooding, as well as Hazard Mitigation Assistance to help reduce the impact of future flood disasters.