After the federal government again turned it down, the State of Illinois will be going to plan B to get aid for individuals in 22 counties affected by flooding this year.
In September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency initially denied the state’s request for aid for residents impacted by historic flooding this year along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Communities like East Cape Girardeau saw entire neighborhoods evacuated and homes left uninhabitable with many residents wondering what to do next.
At 3 a.m. on May 6, Curtis Smith watched floodwaters bubble up through the hardwood floors he’d just refinished. That’s when he surrendered it to the Illinois River.
FEMA told the state that it had “determined the impact to individuals and households from the event is not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance.”
The state had appealed this decision, but, on Friday, FEMA denied the appeal, according to a news release from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
After this final denial, the state will pivot, according to the release, to seek a disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The news release said a disaster declaration for the SBA would “enable residents and business owners in the approved counties, and its contiguous counties, to apply for grants as well as low-interest, long-term loans.”
Illinois’ congressional delegation had put its support behind the appeal, urging FEMA to reconsider its September decision.
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“As you know, this particular federal assistance is critical to assist households and individuals in rebuilding personal property and businesses,” said a letter to FEMA, signed by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and the state’s 18 U.S. House representatives.
Illinois’ congressional delegation has offered bipartisan support to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s appeal to the federal government following its denia…
Friday’s news release from IEAM quotes the organization’s acting director, Alicia Tate-Nadeau, saying “while we are extremely disappointed that Illinois did not qualify for Individual Assistance funding, we will not give up fighting to provide resources to the citizens of Illinois.” She said the state plans to work its congressional delegation to encourage FEMA to “change the eligibility requirements of the Individual Assistance program that hurts states like Illinois
In total, $8.2 million in qualified individual assistance damages were identified in a joint state-federal assessment. In his letter seeking an appeal, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state’s capacity to respond had been stretched beyond its limits. In making his case, he cited crushing debt, a backlog of unpaid bills and repeated natural disasters for which the federal government has denied help.
As previously reported by The Southern, the feds have previously provided Public Assistance money for 28 counties in the state. That will allow local governments, as well as churches and nonprofits, to be reimbursed for flood-fighting expenditures and repairs to public infrastructure, such as damaged roads. According to Friday’s news release, under the guidelines of the PA program, local jurisdictions can be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of eligible costs.
For individuals and homeowners who still need immediate assistance in the wake of these devastating floods, the State of Illinois has a flood recovery website which provides resources for mortgage assistance, emergency housing and debris removal and can be found online at www.illinois.gov/2019floods.