Rauner Wraps 3-Day Tour Of Flood Damage With Stop In Douglas County

Rauner greets Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz at the Villa Grove Fire Station Sunday.

Rauner greets Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz at the Villa Grove Fire Station Sunday.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Governor Bruce Rauner hopes that a state disaster declaration for 12 Illinois counties hit by flooding means one from the federal government isn’t far behind.  Rauner completed three days of touring areas hit by flooded waters with a stop Sunday in the Douglas County town of Villa Grove.

There, the waters are receding, but a number of residents still have flooded basements, as well as foundation and wall damage, according to Douglas County Emergency Management Agency Director Joseph Victor. 

Rauner says getting a federal declaration for Illinois will require being able to show a sufficiently high level of damage. The governor admits the standards for gaining that approval are ‘pretty tough.’

But he says the state's inability to provide flood-relief funding has nothing to do with Illinois’ budget impasse.

“We at the state of Illinois don’t have real dedicated financial resources to help in terms of financial reimbursement," he said.  "It’s nothing to do with the budget (stalemate), we just have never had that in Illinois.  That’s maybe something we get a look at changing over time, once we get our act together, and we start growing the economy again.”

Rauner says the state disaster declarations is helping flooded counties with equipment and supplies such as water pumps and sandbags, plus guidance from personnel with the Illinois State Police and Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Villa Grove Mayor Terry Harbin says the December flood is the worst he can remember since April 1994.

"It seems like it's getting a little more frequent, and that's due to excess water coming down from the north," he said.  "Right now, we just encourage residents who have had any type of water damage to contact city hall with their address.  Douglas County EMA can make their initial assessments, and direct IEMA to whatever structural damage had been done."

"We can only get good information if the homeowners are there to help us," said Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director James Joseph.  "We need to identify what the uninsured losses are, so please cooperate with those efforts over the next couple of weeks."

Gov. Rauner reviews photos of flood damage with Douglas County Emergency Management Agency Director Joseph Victor.

Photo Credit:  Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Gov. Rauner says until the budget impasse is resolved, he says legislative leaders have promised to keep essential services going in events like severe weather.

“Whether it’s road salt, whether it’s emergency personnel, and we were able to get that agreement done," he said.  "So for emergencies, we’re covered.  Long-term, what we need, is obviously a truly balanced budget.  And what we need is economic growth. That’s the key.”

Rauner says the state can help homeowners who have suffered damage, dealing with insurance companies that aren’t cooperating.

The governor also says the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity may be able to free up some funds, helping small business owners recover from storm damage.

Story source: WILL