U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk of Illinois on Tuesday called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fix the funding formulas they say unfairly put downstate Illinois communities at a disadvantage after a disaster.
Durbin, a Democrat, and Kirk, a Republican, said after the agency should consider the legislation they introduced after the denial of both individual assistance and public assistance to Southern Illinois communities including Harrisburg and Ridgway in 2012.
More recently, Illinois in November sustained tornado damage in several counties — Massac and Washington among them.
Although more than $12 million in federal aid has been approved to help people and businesses affected by the November severe storms, Gov. Pat Quinn’s request for public assistance to cover the repairs or replacement of infrastructure and other local government costs was denied last week.
In April 2012, Durbin and Kirk introduced the Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act, which they say would ensure consistency and fairness to the FEMA’s disaster declaration process.
The act would require FEMA to give a specified weight to each of the factors considered when determining which communities are eligible for the two types of federal assistance, individual and public.
It also require FEMA to take into consideration local economic factors including the local assessable tax base, the median income as it compares to that of the state, and the poverty rate as it compares to that of the state.
Although FEMA has never revealed an exact formula for determining a disaster declaration, FEMA has confirmed that it considers six factors to determine eligibility for both individual assistance and public assistance, the senators said in a news release. The relative weight of each factor remains unknown.