News Local/State

FEMA Denies Request For Federal Assistance After Winter Floods

County Road 1450N, south of St. Joseph, in late December 2015.

A view from the bridge of County Road 1450N, south of St. Joseph in late December 2015. Steve Hillberg

Illinois’ request for federal flooding assistance in more than two dozen Central and Southern Illinois counties - including Douglas, Vermilion, and Iroquois - has been denied.  Two weeks ago, the state submitted requests for both individual assistance, to help people and businesses, and public assistance – in order to reimburse local governments for disaster related expenses. 

In a letter Thursday, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the damage from floods in severe storms “was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

"This is yet another example of how the federal government’s population-based threshold for determining assistance works against states with large metropolitan areas,” said James K. Joseph, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.  “We will be reaching out to our emergency management partners in the affected counties to see if there is any additional information that would support an appeal of the denial of either type of assistance.”

Joseph says he plans on reaching out to emergency management officials in the affected counties, to see if there’s any more information that would support an appeal.

Counties included in Illinois' request for federal assistance for people and businesses were Alexander, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Iroquois, Jersey, Madison, Randolph, Sangamon and St. Clair.

Counties included in the state’s request for federal assistance for local governments were Alexander, Bureau, Calhoun, Cass, Cumberland, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Menard, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Randolph, St. Clair and Vermilion.

Meanwhile, a bill adjusting the FEMA assistance formula to give more consideration to less populated areas passed the U.S. House last month. H.R. 1471 is now awaiting Senate action.

GOP Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville issued a statement, expressing his disappointment with the decision.

“I had hoped FEMA would have taken the language we passed unanimously in the House into consideration during the evaluation process but it’s clear now that a change in law is needed to help our communities in downstate Illinois get the fair consideration they deserve," he said. "As storm season in Illinois approaches, I hope the Senate passes this legislation quickly before another major disaster strikes and our communities are left without any federal assistance.”