Illinois governor asks for federal assistance for tornado-stricken areas

March 8, 2012

Associated Press

Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon talks with Sharon Murray, 61, in front of her destroyed home in Harrisburg, Ill. (AP/Stephen Lance Dennee)

Gov. Pat Quinn is asking President Barack Obama to declare five southern Illinois counties major disaster areas so local residents and businesses hurt by recent tornadoes can receive federal aid.

Federal assistance is being sought for Gallatin, Randolph, Saline, Union and Williamson counties.

In Saline County, six people were killed when a tornado swept through Harrisburg. The National Weather Service has given the tornado an EF4 rating, the second-highest rating. The rating is assigned to storms based on damage they cause.

In Wednesday's request, Quinn says the state needs federal aid to help communities damaged by the Feb. 29 storms.

If the federal government grants Quinn's request, residents and businesses in the counties can apply for grants and low-interest Small Business Administration loans.