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Friday, 07 February 2014 02:51

IL appeals FEMA denial for Nov. tornado aid

   The state of Illinois is steadfast in its insistence that local governments devastated by deadly tornadoes in November should be eligible for federal assistance.  They're appealing the Federal Emergency Management Agency's denial of aid.  

   State officials argue that FEMA's population-based formula penalizes small towns in large states.  

   The Illinois Emergency Management Agency filed the appeal on Thursday.

   At least seven people were killed statewide and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed in the storms.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 21 November 2013 16:22

FEMA workers arriving in Washington, Illinois

WASHINGTON, Ill. (AP) - State officials say federal disaster assessment workers are expected to arrive in Washington and other areas hit by Sunday's tornadoes starting today.

And state spokesman Brian Williamsen said Thursday that Washington Community High School was open for the first time since one of those tornadoes tore through the central Illinois town.

Washington was hit hardest with hundreds of homes destroyed and one local resident killed. Five people died elsewhere in Illinois.

Williamsen said Federal Emergency Management Agency workers were expected to start assessing damage in some areas around the state Thursday afternoon.

Those assessments are part of the process of applying for federal disaster relief.

Williamsen said Washington residents whose homes can't be lived in are being kept out of their neighborhoods Thursday as large-scale debris removal continues.

 
Published in Local News

   NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) - Several southwest Missouri school districts that have planned new safe rooms since a deadly May 2011 tornado destroyed much of Joplin say their projects could be delayed by the federal shutdown.

   In Neosho that means more than $10 million in projects are on hold because there's nobody at the Federal Emergency Management Agency that can approve the work. Similar projects in Webb City, Avilla and Joplin also are in limbo because of the shutdown.

   The Joplin Globe reports school officials believe a delay in awarding contracts could mean construction on the safe rooms might have to be pushed back until next year.

   An architect for several of the projects says it takes six to eight weeks to complete the bid process after FEMA approves of the designs.

 
Published in Local News

   LYONS, Colo. (AP) — As water recedes and flows east onto the Colorado plains — revealing toppled homes, buckled highways and fields of tangled debris — rescuers are shifting their focus from emergency airlifts to trying to find the hundreds of people still unaccounted for after last week's devastating flooding.

   Federal and state emergency officials, taking advantage of sunny skies, said more than 3,000 people have been evacuated by air and ground, but calls for those emergency rescues have decreased.

   "They've kind of transitioned from that initial response to going into more of a grid search," Colorado National Guard Lt. Skye Robinson said.

   In one of those searches Tuesday, Sgt. 1st Class Keith Bart and Staff Sgt. Jose Pantoja leaned out the window of a Blackhawk helicopter, giving the thumbs-up sign to people on the ground while flying outside of hard-hit Jamestown.

   Most waved back and continued shoveling debris. But then Bart spotted two women waving red scarves, and the helicopter descended.

   Pantoja attached his harness to the helicopter's winch and was lowered to the ground. He clipped the women in, and they laughed as they were hoisted into the Blackhawk.

   After dropping off the women at the Boulder airport, the Blackhawk was back in the air less than a minute later to resume the search.

   The state's latest count has dropped to about 580 people missing, and the number continues to decrease as the stranded get in touch with families.

   One of the missing is Gerald Boland, a retired math teacher and basketball coach who lives in the damaged town of Lyons. Boland's neighbors, all of whom defied a mandatory evacuation order, said Boland took his wife to safety Thursday then tried to return home.

   Two search teams went looking for him Monday.

   "He was very sensible. I find it amazing that he would do something that would put himself in harm's way," said neighbor Mike Lennard. "But you just never know under these circumstances."

   State officials reported six flood-related deaths, plus two women missing and presumed dead. The number was expected to increase. It could take weeks or even months to search through flooded areas looking for bodies.

   With the airlifts tapering, state and local transportation officials are tallying the washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and twisted railroad lines. The rebuilding effort will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take months, if not years.

   Initial assessments have begun trickling in, but many areas remain inaccessible and the continuing emergency prevents a thorough understanding of the devastation's scope.

   Northern Colorado's broad agricultural expanses are especially affected, with more than 400 lane-miles of state highway and more than 30 bridges destroyed or impassable.

   A Colorado Department of Transportation helicopter crew has been surveying damage, said department spokesman Ashley Mohr.

   County officials have started their own damage tallies: 654 miles of roads in Weld County bordering Wyoming, 150 miles of roads in the Boulder County roads foothills, along with hundreds of bridges, culverts and canals.

   Dale Miller, road and bridge director for Larimer County, said it could compare to the damage wrought by a 1976 flood that killed 144 people. It took two years to rebuild after that disaster.

   State officials have put initial estimates at more than 19,000 homes damaged or destroyed throughout the flooded areas.

Published in National News

WASHINGTON (AP) - Eleven Illinois counties will get some federal money to recover from the flooding in the state that occurred in late April and early May.

In a news release, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the White House has made federal funds available to supplement state and local recovery efforts. The assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs that help businesses and home owners.

The federal aid will be shared by Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, McHenry and Will counties. And other areas might also receive assistance if the state requests it and further damage assessments reveal it is warranted.

For further information, contact http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

Published in Local News

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