CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday said he was disappointed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's denial of Illinois' appeal for federal disaster assistance for local governments impacted by the Nov. 17 tornado outbreak.
Quinn said FEMA's decision was based on outdated federal rules and not the serious need that exists in hard-hit Illinois communities.
Federal aid was given to people and businesses affected by those tornadoes, but FEMA denied the state's request for assistance to local governments, which Quinn said incurred $6.1 million in storm-related expenses. Two dozen tornadoes killed eight people and destroyed or damaged 2,500 homes.
"Illinois has recently faced a record number of historic natural disasters," Quinn said. "Federal assistance shouldn't be based on a formula that excludes our hardest-hit communities."
Quinn said he's directing state agencies to assemble a relief package that will help communities rebuild, adding the he will not "let this federal decision leave our citizens behind."
Quinn and Illinois' U.S. senators complain that communities in highly populated states — such as Illinois, with its more than 10 million people — under FEMA's aid formula must incur a greater level of damage than communities in lesser-populated states.
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk said in a statement he will work with Sen. Dick Durbin and other members of Illinois' congressional delegation to pass the reforms needed to ensure the state is treated fairly.
"FEMA has gotten it wrong in Illinois not once but twice," Durbin said in a statement. "The federal government can't be expected to help after every weather event, but the damage I saw in Central Illinois convinced me that we need to be doing more."
In a recent emailed response to The Associated Press, FEMA said it "carefully considered" Illinois' request but concluded "the public costs associated with the response and recovery efforts were not beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments such that additional federal assistance is required."