Davis, Bost, & Shimkus Urge FEMA to Weigh Localized Impact When Considering Governor's Request for Federal Assistance
Announce FEMA Reform Legislation Heads to House Floor Next Week
U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Mike Bost (R-Ill.), and John Shimkus (R-Ill.) releashed the following statements after the Illinois Congressional Delegation sent a letter urging President Obama to support Governor Rauner’s request for federal assistance to help 21 of the hardest-hit counties recover from recent severe flash and river flooding. While the state did not meet FEMA’s population-based threshold, the members have urged FEMA to put greater weight on the localized impact of a disaster in a FEMA reform bill (H.R. 1471) scheduled to be on the House floor next week.
“The December flooding caused a lot of damage to small communities in Central and Southwestern Illinois,” said Davis. “I hope FEMA will take that into account when examining Governor Rauner’s request. While the cost of the damage has not reached the arbitrary formula used by FEMA to determine assistance, I urge the agency to take the local impact of these damages into account before making their decision. I have urged FEMA to put greater weight on the localized impact of a disaster and on Monday the House will take up FEMA reform legislation that requires them to do just that.”
"I have toured and seen the widespread damage, first hand, and know this is the next critical step in this process,” said Bost. “We need to be able to provide flooding relief for homeowners and businesses, and the assistance is needed to be able to begin the rebuilding process in our communities. During and after this disaster, it was an amazing experience seeing Southern Illinoisans coming out to help their neighbors but now more needs to be done.”
“Downstate Illinois is disadvantaged when disasters strike because of FEMA’s flawed formula," said Shimkus. "Legislation before the House next week will help to address that problem and give communities in the 15th District a chance to be eligible for FEMA Public Assistance. A million dollars to Chicago may not matter much, but it does to my constituents.”
Last April, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously passed a bill to reauthorize and reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which includes Davis’ provision to bring fairness to the federal disaster declaration process. H.R. 1471, the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015, includes language that requires FEMA to give greater weight and consideration to the localized impact of a disaster when determining the need for federal assistance. This provision is similar to H.R. 1685, the Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act, legislation Davis and members of the Illinois Delegation introduced last year.
Text of the Illinois Congressional Delegation letter urging President Obama to support Governor Rauner’s request for federal assistance is as follows:
Dear Mr. President:
We write to support Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s request for federal assistance for the State of Illinois to help 21 of the hardest-hit counties recover from severe flash and river flooding that began on December 23, 2015, and continued through January 13, 2016. Individual Assistance is requested for Alexander, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Iroquois, Jersey, Madison, Randolph, Sangamon, and St. Clair counties. Public Assistance is requested for Alexander, Bureau, Calhoun, Cass, Cumberland, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Menard, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Randolph, St. Clair, and Vermilion counties. Federal assistance is necessary to help these counties recover and rebuild from the large-scale flood damage.
As a result of torrential rainfall and winter storms, rivers in Illinois reached record-high levels and dangerous flooding occurred across the state. The Mississippi River at Thebes reached a crest level of 47.7 feet, which is the highest level reached on record. Preliminary Damage Assessments have determined that Illinois communities experienced significant uninsured losses and widespread property damage that totaled more than $15 million. While the state did not meet FEMA’s population-based threshold of $18.1 million, all counties included in the state’s request for federal assistance to local governments exceeded the required county threshold of $3.57 per capita. Additionally, communities experienced road closures, evacuations, power outages, and at least ten fatalities – many of which were a result of flooded roadways.
Governor Rauner has determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and local governments. Supplemental federal assistance is necessary to help local governments in these counties recover up to 75 percent of their disaster-related expenses to clean up and rebuild.
We respectfully request that you approve our request for federal assistance so counties can receive the financial assistance that they need. We thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this important request and stand ready to assist in any way appropriate.