After tornadoes, main concern is housing

November 19, 2013

The Associated Press

Ben DuBois tries to salvage what he can from his home the day after a tornado destroyed his house Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, in Washington Ill. The tornado that hit the western Illinois town of Washington on Sunday was one of the worst-hit areas after intense storms and tornadoes swept through Illinois. The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Washington had a preliminary rating of EF-4, meaning wind speeds of 170 mph to 190 mph.

WASHINGTON, Ill. — Agents with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are in Illinois and other states affected by Sunday's tornadoes, but it isn't clear if it will mean more federal help for storm victims.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has issued disaster declarations for 13 counties. That's meant to make it easier for state resources to help communities raked by the Sunday storms that killed at least six people.

FEMA says it has sent emergency teams and liaisons to affected states.

FEMA spokesman Mark Peterson in Chicago says local officials are assessing property damage, including how much of it will be covered by insurance.

Once that's all determined, affected states can request FEMA's help in verifying those numbers and decide whether to seek a federal disaster declaration.

Quinn says a tornado recovery priority is making sure those who were left homeless in southern and central Illinois have roofs over their heads.

With colder weather setting in, housing has become a main concern following Sunday's storms, which killed at least six people and injured dozens. Hundreds of homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Quinn spoke to WLS-TV by phone on Tuesday, a day after touring devastated communities. He says the lack of housing is "going to be a big, big issue for us coming up in the next few days."

Quinn singled out the small community of Brookport in far southern Illinois, where the storm hit a trailer park.

Quinn said those left homeless there are "very, very poor" and need assistance.