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 15 southern Illinois counties affected by severe flooding in March. The Governor requested a federal disaster declaration for the area on April 8 to give flood victims access to federal grants and low-interest loans to help with home repairs and other flood-related losses. On April 28, federal officials denied that request.
“More than a month after flooding forced hundreds of people from their homes, many still can’t return because they’re unable to make needed repairs,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We remain committed to helping those affected get the help they need, and I urge President Bush to quickly approve our appeal so that they can begin the recovery process.”
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 earlier this 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 96 homes were found to have been impacted by flooding, including 25 homes that were destroyed and 14 that suffered major damage. The original damage assessment identified 189 homes that were destroyed or had major damage, bringing the total to 228 homes with major damage or destroyed. In all, 659 homes were impacted by the March floods.
“During our assessments this week, we found some homes in Gallatin County that were inundated with water and mud for more than 30 days,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “It’s very difficult for people to recover from such devastation without the grants and low-interest loans available through a federal disaster declaration. We hope the additional information in our appeal makes it clear that federal assistance is essential to helping these people recover from this flood.”
Counties included in the appeal for federal assistance include Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, White and Williamson.