FEMA Denies Aid, State Will Appeal

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied a request for aid to local governments in Illinois after deadly tornadoes swept the state in November.

FEMA sent a letter on Thursday to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency saying that damage after the storms wasn't severe enough to warrant federal help. The storms left at least 7 people dead statewide and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.

Gov. Pat Quinn says the state will appeal the decision. He says he's "disappointed'' in FEMA's decision, which affects Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne and Woodford counties. The state is seeking to recover about $6 million in costs to local governments in the nine affected counties.

Jonathon Monken is the director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. He says an appeal gives the state and local communities another chance to calculate damage costs:
"It's not just about well this number is there, this number is not.  There's a lot more to it than that.  The second and third order impacts to communities need to be considered when we're talking about whether a community needs federal assistance."
FEMA says the state was more than $11 million short of a threshold to qualify for public assistance.  Monken says new damage assessments can better reflect costs incurred by cities like Washington.  The Central Illinois town saw more than 1,000 homes damaged in the tornado and lost a significant amount of its property tax base.  The state has 30 days to submit an appeal.

The federal government has previously approved millions of dollars in aid for residents and businesses.