FEMA Reverses, Says Illinois Counties Qualify for Flood Aid

March 10, 2008

Livingston and Iroquois counties in eastern Illinois will receive federal disaster aid to recover from January flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday. March 7 in a decision that reversed an earlier ruling.

FEMA initially ruled last month the counties weren’t badly flooded enough to merit disaster status, which allows people and businesses to apply for financial help following floods and other disasters.

The agency accepted an appeal of the decision by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said FEMA spokesman Aric Schmidt. State and local officials had complained that FEMA failed to count several hundred homes damaged by the floods.

“I’m so excited that we’ll now be able to assist those residents who had their lives turned upside down by this flood,” said Pontiac Mayor Scott McCoy. “I can’t tell you how happy I am right now.”

McCoy said he received a phone call Friday afternoon from Illinois Emergency Management Agency director Andrew Velasquez informing him of the aid just as he was to address a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a local museum. McCoy announced the news to the crowd, which cheered and applauded.

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

Blagojevich has already declared the counties state disaster areas.

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