Illinois News

Federal disaster declaration issued for spring flooding

A view of flooding on Bonsingra Drive and the railway yard seen from the Bayview Bridge on Wednesday, May. 29, 2019. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 20, 2019 12:10 am

QUINCY -- A federal disaster declaration has been issued for 27 counties in Illinois, including Adams, Hancock, and Pike counties. President Donald Trump declared Thursday that a major disaster existed in Illinois and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by severe storms and flooding from Feb. 24 to July 3, 2019.

The move allows local governments to access grants or loans to help with flood-related losses or costs incurred from battling this year's historic flooding.

The Mississippi River crested at 31.16 feet on June 1 in Quincy, which was less than 1 foot from the record crest of 32.13 feet set in 1993.

John Simon, director of the Adams County Emergency Management Agency, said the move is welcomed.

"We've recovered physically, and now we're recovering financially," Simon said.

Local governments turned in $3.1 million in expenses from flooding this spring and early summer.

In a press release, Gov. J.B. Pritzker thanked the state's congressional delegation and state and federal partners for help in securing the resources.

"My administration stands with every resident and business impacted by this year's flooding, and we will help our communities rebuild stronger and more resilient," Pritzker said.

Alicia Tate-Nadeau, acting director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said the agency will start working with FEMA and county emergency managers to expedite the process as local governments have 30 days to submit documentation for funding.

"While this declaration is specifically for local and state governments, we have been told that the governor's request for individual assistance, which helps homeowners and business owners, remains under review."

Under the Public Assistance program, FEMA awards grants to assist state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations with the response to and recovery from disasters.

Under the guidelines of the program, local jurisdictions can be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of eligible costs. The program can provide funding for debris removal, implementation of emergency protective measures and permanent restoration of infrastructure. The program also encourages protection from future damage by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery process.

"The target of (hazard mitigation) is to focus on projects to more or eliminate structures from the flood plain or elevate them to reduce flood impacts," Simon said.

Even with the second highest crest in recorded history, Simon noted that there was less of an impact because of substantial mitigation projects after the floods of 1993 and 2008.

Pritzker also directed IEMA to work with affected areas not covered by the disaster declaration to explore options to assist them in the wake of flooding. This could include further damage evaluations.

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