Washington, D.C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has declared a major disaster for Illinois, opening the way for the use of federal disaster funds to help meet the recovery needs of families and businesses devastated by the string of violent tornadoes and other extreme weather that struck the state last week.
Michael D. Brown, FEMA director and under secretary for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the President authorized the aid immediately after receiving FEMA's analysis of the state's expedited request for federal relief. The declaration covers damage to private property from severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that occurred over the period of May 6-11.
"President Bush acted quickly in ordering disaster aid for Illinois because he knows how destructive these storms have been," Brown said. "FEMA will be there to do whatever it takes to help get all those in need back on the road to recovery as fast as possible."
Following the declaration, Brown designated the following 12 counties eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners: Adams, Alexander, Brown, Fulton, Hancock, Mason, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Schuyler, Tazewell and Woodford.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
In addition, Brown said cost-shared funding will be available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks. He indicated that damage surveys are continuing, and additional counties and assistance for state and local government agencies may be designated later based on the results of the assessments.
Ron Sherman of FEMA was named by Brown to coordinate the federal relief effort. Sherman said affected residents and business owners in the designated counties can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Friday, May 16, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.