Bush Administration Denies Ill.’s Flood Disaster Request

February 11, 2008

The federal government turned down Illinois’ request for a disaster declaration to help residents affected by last month’s floods in Pontiac.

“This is devastating news,” Pontiac Mayor Scott McCoy said in a statement. “It’s hard to believe that so many people can lose so much and be impacted like this, and it’s not enough for the federal government to help us in our time of need.”

Hundreds were forced to evacuate in east-central Illinois after days of heavy rainfall and melting snow last month caused severe flooding. More than 430 homes, including 200 in Livingston County, evacuated when the Vermilion River went over its banks.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has already declared Livingston County and Iroquois County state disaster areas.

The declaration would have provided cash grants for temporary housing, home repairs and replacement and other disaster-related costs. Businesses could have applied for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“We’re extremely disappointed that the federal government has ignored the needs of people whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by the January flooding, and want to assure everyone affected that the state will continue to work to try to get some assistance to help them rebuild their lives,” said Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Velasquez.

McCoy said he is reviewing the appeals process, but he has not heard from federal officials why they denied the declaration.

“I’d like for those who denied us to come here and tell the young family with two kids and one on the way, who just lost all of their possessions and their home was totally destroyed, that there just wasn’t enough damage,” he said.

The news comes as the streets in Pontiac are flooded again after rain and snow this week.

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