November 2013 tornadoes prompt disaster assistance legislation in Illinois Senate
SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said a measure that aims to bring disaster relief to communities throughout the state has passed the Senate. She is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
Senate Bill 231 permits the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to provide disaster assistance grants in order to reimburse disaster response costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures in counties declared a disaster area by the governor. The assistance would be available to units of local government, school districts and public community college districts.
The legislation is in response to the tornadoes that ripped through Washington, Coal City, Diamond and several other north central Illinois communities in November 2013. A total of thirteen counties were declared disaster areas by Governor Quinn after the tornadoes. However, the state’s request for federal assistance was denied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, saying that infrastructure damage after the storms was not severe enough to warrant federal help. This measure aims to provide for some financial disaster relief for communities affected by storms or other natural disasters.
“This is a way to provide some help to communities hit by a disaster that is not contingent upon federal approval,” Sen. Rezin said. “Last year communities across Illinois were hard hit by tornadoes, yet the federal government denied disaster funding. Allowing communities to qualify for assistance based on a state disaster declaration can provide important aid to communities that they might not receive otherwise.”
The grants offered by IEMA will be paid from the Disaster Assistance to Local Governments Fund, which is subject to appropriation, and can be used for disaster assistance grants.
The legislation now moves to the House for approval.