Illinois Reveals $45 Million Tornado Relief Package

WASHINGTON, Illinois — $45 million is on the way to help communities devastated by last year’s tornadoes.

On Wednesday, March 5th, 2014, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn visited Washington, Illinois to announce a $45 million package aimed at helping that town – and others – rebuild.

The announcement comes after a decision made by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014. FEMA denied Illinois’ request for federal aid for local governments in January 2014. The state appealed the decision, but that appeal was also denied.

“We got to live with what they decided,”said Gov. Quinn. “We can’t just stand there and say ‘Woe is me.’ We got to do something. That’s why we’re here.”

In response, multiple agencies in Illinois have assembled a relief package for local governments. The departments include:

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (Up to $19.1 million to rebuild tornado-damaged infrastructure, $4.5 million for housing repair and reconstruction for low-income residents, $3.6 million to address unmet housing needs, up to $1 million to assist with disaster cleanup and recovery efforts, LIHEAP and Weatherization funds)

Illinois Department of Transportation (Up to $10 million to repair storm-damaged infrastructure)

Illinois Finance Authority (Up to $4.5 million in below-market rate loans to finance repairs)

Illinois Emergency Management Agency ($3.55 million to help municipalities pay for costs already incurred)

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Up to $5.35 million in low-interest loans to repair damaged water systems)

Illinois Housing Development Authority ($2.5 million in emergency rehabilitation assistance)

For a more specific breakdown of the $45 million package, click here.

“We want everyone to get back on their feet and go forward in life,” says Gov. Quinn.

On November 17th, 2013, an EF4 tornado tore through Washington, destroying or damaging hundreds of homes and buildings.

FEMA is giving money to individuals and businesses, but funding the agency turned down is for local governments to rebuild public projects like roads, bridges, and buildings.

“Here in Washington, we’re looking at over $7.5 million for repairs to the infrastructure here,” says Ann Schneider, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Washington Mayor Gary Manier tells News 8 he believes the money will be enough.

“We’re going to rebuild this community the right way and we won’t have to cut corners,” he says. “We won’t have to raise property taxes or sales taxes to make these ends meet and that’s important because our residents are suffering enough.”

Currently, FEMA “places small and rural communities in highly populated states at a disadvantage in the federal disaster declaration process,” according to a press release from the Governor’s Office. Gov. Quinn says U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos – among others – are working to change that formula so that FEMA looks at each city individually instead of looking at the state’s overall population to determine funding.

“We need to change the law,” says Gov. Quinn. “That formula is not fair to a big state with rural areas like Illinois.”