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Asking for federal $$$

PRINCETON – On Friday, Gov. Pat Quinn asked the federal government to add Bureau and 15 other Illinois counties to a recent federal disaster declaration for 11 counties hit by widespread flooding in mid-April.

“We are continuing to do everything possible to help the families and businesses who are recovering from this historic flood,” Quinn said. “I want to thank President Obama for his fast approval of our first request for federal assistance, and I urge quick federal approval of this request, so people in these counties can access the critical help they need.”

The federal disaster declaration will help people and businesses in Bureau and the other new counties added to the list by allowing them to apply for grants and loans to assist with storm-related losses. According to reports from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), more than 800 flood-damaged homes were found in the counties requested Friday, including 14 homes that were destroyed and 202 with major damage.

Bureau County ESDA coordinator Kris Donarski said Quinn's request is the latest step toward getting federal funds for the county, following local and state disaster declarations.

Personnel from Illinois and Federal Emergency Management Agencies, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and affected communities have documented damage to more than 4,300 homes since April 29.

Donarski said five teams were sent out to assess the state, county by county, for damages received by the April rains and flooding. She and local officials met two weeks ago with one of the teams.

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.

No dollar figure on the total damages has yet been released, but Donarski said there were many flooded homes in Bureau County, some with structural damage.

There was also considerable damage to public infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. Quinn will also seek federal assistance to help local governments recoup 75 percent of their eligible flood-related costs.

After the flooding, Quinn declared 49 counties including Bureau as state disaster areas. On May 10, the president approved Quinn’s request for a major disaster declaration for 11 of those counties, including LaSalle County, and to date, more than 16,000 applications for assistance have been submitted from those 11 counties.

"I'm hoping Quinn's request will be granted quickly, so that federal assistance will be available to the areas that were impacted and are still recovering from the flooding," Donarski said.

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