Illinois appeals FEMA decision to deny aid to storm-ravaged counties

March 16, 2012

Michell Eloy

Download Story

Illinois is appealing the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to deny aid to some southern counties hit by tornadoes in late February that left seven dead.

Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday he filed an appeal with the Department of Homeland Security earlier the same morning asking for a review of FEMA's decision. FEMA is a branch of Homeland Security.

Quinn said the state added new information about the amount of damage done by the tornadoes and the economic statistics of the affected areas.

Quinn said the tornadoes hit some of the poorest areas in the state.

"We've inundated the federal government with facts and statistics about how serious the need is here, and it's time for our federal government to step up and help people who need a helping hand," Quinn said.

FEMA rejected the state's request for disaster relief after tornadoes swept through Saline, Gallatin, Randolph, Union and Williamson counties.

The agency said the estimated property damage from the storms wasn't enough to necessitate federal aid. The agency said homeowners' insurance, local charities and other state funds could cover the damage costs linked to the storms.

Quinn said the damage was well documented when the state submitted it's initial request. He said the state still needs help.

"There's still need. That's why we filed our appeal," said Quinn.

In a statement, FEMA said it received the appeal and is committed to working with Illinois on its recovery.

"FEMA has received Governor Quinn’s appeal and is committed to reviewing the request expeditiously," reads the statement. "FEMA remains committed to working with Illinois in its recovery."