FEMA Denies Illinois Tornado Aid; Lawmakers Plan Appeal - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

FEMA Denies Illinois Tornado Aid; Lawmakers Plan Appeal

Updated: March 12, 2012 05:43 PM CDT

Last year when the Quad Cities was blasted by a record-setting blizzard, FEMA awarded Rock Island County thousands of dollars in federal aid.

The storm caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and overtime costs that reached above the county's roughly $480,000 FEMA threshold.

"Those are dollars that aren't budgeted so it's an enormous help if something like that happens and the federal government steps in and reimburses the cities and municipalities," said Jerry Shirk, Rock Island County Emergency Management Agency Director.

In the case of Harrisburg, Illinois and Saline County, FEMA says damage from a deadly tornado is not "beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments and voluntary agencies."

"Different disasters require different responses, I can understand that," said Shirk.  "But I mean FEMA shouldn't be able to just pick and choose which disasters they're going to pay for. A disaster is a disaster."

U.S. Representative Bobby Schilling is joining a state-wide effort to appeal FEMA's decision knowing he'd want support if a similar catastrophe happened close to home.

"I was actually quite shocked, you know, being the president's home state," said Schilling.  "Right away you start feeling bad for the people that are out there that have been affected by this."

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency does not have the authority to award individual grants help families or business owners.  That can only come from FEMA and the federal government.

Schilling says unless the state's appeal goes through, hundreds of families could be left largely on their own to rebuild from the ground up.

"There's no availability for the individual grants.  That's why FEMA needs to come in and do the job that the taxpayers pay them to do," said Schilling.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn now has 30 days to issue an appeal to FEMA. 


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