The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is continuing to review damage information received from nearly three dozen counties impacted by severe storms and flooding in late December. IEMA asked counties to provide assessments of damages to homes as well as response and recovery costs incurred by units of local government. The deadline for submitting the information to the agency was Jan. 18.
Thirty-four counties submitted local government cost information, while 14 counties submitted information on homes damaged. IEMA personnel have been carefully reviewing the large volume of information received and reaching out to county emergency management agencies and units of local government for clarification and additional information.
IEMA Director James K. Joseph said the agency expects this review and outreach process to continue into the week of Jan. 25 and hopes to have a final analysis of the impact by the end of that week.
“We appreciate the efforts of our local partners in compiling this information in such a timely manner,” said Joseph. “It’s our job now to thoroughly review those submissions to develop a clearer picture of the impacts and determine our next steps toward helping these communities recover.”
Joseph said once the information review and analysis with federal guidelines is complete, a determination will be made on whether or not to request FEMA participation in Preliminary Damage Assessments for homes and/or local government expenses in some or all of the counties that submitted IDAs. The incident period for this event is Dec. 23, 2015, to Jan. 13, 2016. As such, the state of Illinois has until Feb. 12, 2015, to determine whether or not a request for federal assistance is warranted.
If the Preliminary Damage Assessments show the state meets the federal assistance criteria, the governor could request a major disaster declaration from the President.
There are two separate federal assistance programs. The Individual Assistance program offers grants and low-interest loans to people affected by disasters. The Public Assistance program provides reimbursement up to 75 percent of eligible costs incurred by local governments as they dealt with the disaster and subsequent recovery.
While there is no defined damage amount for Individual Assistance, the state’s past experience with requests for federal assistance shows that it usually takes hundreds of homes with severe damage to qualify for the program. The Public Assistance program has a population-based threshold, which for Illinois is $18.1 million statewide. Once the state meets that threshold, individual counties also would need to meet a threshold of $3.56 multiplied by the county’s population.