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County working on federal assessment process for flood damage

PRINCETON — Local officials are working with federal and state officials to determine if Bureau County is eligible for federal assistance following the April 17-18 heavy rains and flooding which damaged homes, businesses, roads and streets, bridges and public facilities across the county and state.

On Friday, President Barack Obama signed a declaration naming 11 counties to be eligible for federal funding, including LaSalle, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

On Monday, Bureau County ESDA coordinator Kris Donarski said five teams have been sent out to assess the state, county by county, for damages received by the April rains and flooding. Donarski and local officials met last week with one of the teams, which included personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration.

Donarski said the assessment process includes a preliminary damage assessment for individual assistance, which would cover homes and businesses impacted by the April flooding. The assessment process also includes a preliminary damage assessment for public assistance, which would cover roads and streets, bridges, and government buildings and facilities.

The preliminary damage assessment for individual assistance has been completed for Bureau County, but the preliminary damage assessment for public assistance could take several more days, Donarski said.

There are a variety of factors which are considered in determining whether a county is eligible for federal funding, Donarski said. The assessment teams gather the needed information and submit it to federal and state officials to determine if a county exceeds the threshhold level to qualify for federal assistance and would therefore be included in the federal declaration, she said.

As far as Bureau County, it is too soon to know when that determination would be reached, Donarski said. The county could be declared eligible for federal individual assistance or for public assistance, for both, or for neither, she said.

In a statement issued Friday, Gov. Pat Quinn said the federal disaster declaration makes assistance available to flood victims, including grants to individuals and households to help with temporary housing, home repairs or replacement and other disaster-related expenses, as well as low-interest loans to residents and businesses. Damage assessments are continuing in many other counties hit by severe flooding and additional requests for federal assistance are expected, the governor said.

Bureau County was one of 49 counties to be declared state disaster areas by Quinn after the April rains.

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