Illinois to appeal FEMA disaster decision

Sarah Gardner Mar 13, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Now to Southern Illinois, where deadly tornadoes recently ravaged parts of five counties — counties that will not get disaster money from the federal government, even though the state’s governor, Pat Quinn, has asked for it. FEMA denied the request, and now Governor Quinn is appealing.

Marketplace’s Sarah Gardner reports.

Sarah Gardner: Bill Summers is fire chief in Harrisburg, Ill., where seven people died in the February 29th tornado. He showed FEMA officials the damage, including a destroyed feed store, gas station, senior center, strip mall.

Bill Summers: Then it went into what we call the country club area with some high dollar houses where it just really wrecked a bunch of them. 

When FEMA considers disaster aid, it doesn’t just count damaged houses. It looks at private insurance coverage, are there state and local disaster funds and what’s the disaster’s impact, per capita, on the entire state. And that’s just a start. With that in mind, Kentucky and Indiana got some tornado aid. Illinois and Ohio didn’t.

But unlike Illinois, Ohio won’t appeal, says spokeswoman Tamara McBride.

Tamara McBride: Instead we have requested through the Small Business Administration, low-interest loans for the impacted residents in that community. 

Illinois’ governor insists that FEMA underestimated the tornado’s impact on towns like Harrisburg.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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