2013 Tornado Destroyed Over 1,000 Homes, Caused Over $25 Million Worth of Damage; Kirk-Sponsored Legislation Would Bring Fairness to FEMA’s Current Disaster Declaration Process
WASHINGTON, Ill. – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Mayor Gary Manier of Washington, Illinois, today met with survivors of the 2013 tornado that devastated the Washington community, destroying more than 1,000 homes and creating more than $25 million worth of damages. During the visit, Senator Kirk received updates on Washington’s rebuilding progress and discuss legislation he has championed to ensure Illinois residents receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following natural disasters.
“Any community that is struck by a natural disaster, like Washington, should be eligible for FEMA aid,” said Senator Kirk. “I’ve worked to pass legislation to urge FEMA to reevaluate their methodology for determining aid and I am glad to see that this community is making progress in their rebuilding following the 2013 tornado.”
Following the November 2013 tornadoes, then-Governor Pat Quinn requested federal aid for local governments in Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermillion, Washington, Wayne and Woodford counties. The request was denied. In order to help Illinois families during similar disasters, Senators Kirk and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced the Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act. This bipartisan legislation aims to bring fairness and consistency to FEMA’s current disaster declaration process.
In a severe storm or natural disaster, communities in a state, like Illinois, with a large population – more than 12 million people – must incur a relatively higher level of damage than communities in a state with a smaller population. FEMA’s methodology for determining federal disaster assistance places far too much emphasis on statewide population, disadvantaging states with large, populated centers. The Kirk-Durbin bill would require FEMA to take into consideration local economic factors, such as the local assessable tax base, the median income as it compares to that of the state, and the poverty rate as it compares to that of the state, in order to ensure that communities affected by disaster are not denied public assistance based on a “per capita” indicator.
Senator Kirk toured Washington in November 2013 after the tornado touched down. He visited again in April 2015 to check on the progress of families rebuilding their homes.
Soutce: U.S. Senator Mark Kirk