State

After FEMA denial, Ill. turns to state tornado aid

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — After the denial of federal disaster assistance, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the state will be making $45 million available to help local governments recover from November's deadly tornadoes.

Quinn was scheduled to visit two communities especially hit hard: Washington in central Illinois and Brookport in southern Illinois. He blamed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision on outdated rules, an issue he raised last month in Washington D.C.

About two dozen tornadoes hit Illinois Nov. 17 damaging and destroying thousands of homes and buildings. Seven people died in the aftermath and injuries played a role in the January death of an eighth person.

Federal aid was given to people and businesses affected, but FEMA denied the state's request for assistance to local governments, which Quinn says have incurred $6.1 million in storm-related expenses. Local governments in the nine counties affected by the tornadoes —Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne and Woodford — would be eligible.

"Our tornado-ravaged communities need help and they need it now," he said in a release. "Recovery won't happen overnight but this aid will help people rebuild their lives."

The money for the state package comes from state several agencies, including the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which will provide up to $19.1 million in state and federal funds for rebuilding infrastructure, among other things.

FEMA also rejected a request for aid in 2012 when a tornado tore through southern Illinois' Harrisburg, killing seven and forcing state agencies to cobble together more than $8 million in aid, Quinn's office said.

Federal officials have said FEMA "carefully considered" Illinois' request but concluded "the public costs associated with the response and recovery efforts were not beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments such that additional federal assistance is required."

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