State and local officials gather together for a photo on top of the barrier protecting Alton. (Photo by Dan Brannan)

Could help people, businesses and local governments recover from December floods

SPRINGFIELD Governor Bruce Rauner today asked President Barack Obama to approve federal assistance to help people, businesses and local governments in several Illinois counties recover from record and near-record flooding and severe storms in late December and early January. 

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Governor Rauner requested federal assistance for people and businesses in Alexander, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Iroquois, Jersey, Madison, Randolph, Sangamon and St. Clair counties. The Governor also requested federal assistance for local governments in Alexander, Bureau, Calhoun, Cass, Cumberland, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Menard, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Randolph, St. Clair and Vermilion counties.

“The information gathered during the recent damage assessments illustrates the difficult road people and communities face as they try to recover from the record and near-record flooding we experienced in December,” said Governor Rauner. “Without federal assistance a full recovery may not occur.”

Joint assessment teams from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reviewed damage in 10 counties earlier this month. The teams identified 684 homes that were damaged, including 10 homes that were destroyed, 131 homes with major damage, and 543 with less severe damage related to the floods and storms.

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IEMA and FEMA personnel also met with local government officials in 19 counties in early February to document disaster-related expenses and damages, which totaled more than $15 million.

While the state didn’t meet FEMA’s population-based threshold of $18.1 million, Governor Rauner said several other factors should be considered when Illinois’ request is reviewed. For example, some of the same areas hit by the deadly December storms and floods also were impacted by severe storms and flooding last summer, leaving already cash-strapped local governments struggling once again to scrape together funds to repair roads and other critical infrastructure.

All of the counties included in the state’s request for federal assistance to local governments exceeded the required county threshold of $3.57 per capita. However, the federal-state damage assessment determined Calhoun County’s flood-related expenses were more than $100 per capita, while local government costs to recover from damage to roads and critical infrastructure in Alexander County topped $445 per capita.

If Governor Rauner’s request for Individual Assistance is approved, people in the approved counties would be eligible to apply for grants and low-interest SBA loans. In addition, affected businesses would be able to apply for low-interest SBA loans.

If the Governor’s request for Public Assistance is approved, local governments in the approved counties would be eligible to apply for up to 75 percent reimbursement of their eligible disaster-related expenses.

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