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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Declaration opens door for federal aid in Washington recovery

  • In addition to the Washington Mayor Gary Manier making a disaster declaration, Gov. Pat Quinn and President Barack Obama also signed disaster declarations for 15 counties in Illinois including Tazewell and the city of Washington.
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  • As mayor, Gary Manier routinely signs hundreds of documents a year. One document he has had the most trouble signing during his 12-years as mayor was the Nov. 17 disaster declaration. Two people have died in the Nov. 17 tornado and 125 were injured. Last week, the Washington City Council voted unanimously to renew the declaration on Nov. 25, eight days after an EF-4 tornado cut a wide path through the city, destroying or damaging more than 1,000 buildings. “That was the toughest signature I have ever put on a document, I can tell you that,” Manier said after the vote. In addition to the mayor making a disaster declaration, Gov. Pat Quinn and President Barack Obama also signed disaster declarations for 15 counties in Illinois including Tazewell and the city of Washington. The president signed the disaster declaration on Nov. 26 which paves the way for federal funding to assist in cleanup and recovery. “We will begin working immediately with the federal government to ensure tornado victims can get needed help as quickly as possible,” Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency said in a release announcing the federal assistance. Available assistance to people and businesses in the 15 approved counties affected by the Nov. 17 storms includes: • Grants of up to $32,400 to help with disaster-related needs and necessary expenses not covered by insurance and other aid programs, such as replacement of personal property, and transportation, medical, dental and funeral expenses. • Low-interest loans for up to $200,000 for homeowners to cover uninsured property losses, including repair or replacement of homes, vehicles, clothing or other damaged personal property. Renters and homeowners can receive loans of up to $40,000 to replace damaged or destroyed personal property, such as clothing, furniture, appliances, vehicles, etc. • Crisis counseling, disaster-related unemployment assistance, legal aid and assistance with income tax, Social Security and veteran's benefits. • Businesses and private not-for-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Loans are also available to some businesses for economic losses. The federal disaster declaration includes Champaign, Douglas, Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, LaSalle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford counties. Anyone affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes should register for the grants and low-interest loans they may be eligible for. Disaster officials said victims of the tornado seeking federal help need to call FEMA. They warned that FEMA does not initiate calls and cautioned that unprompted calls may be a scam. FEMA has a toll-free telephone number 800-621-3362 or hearing and speech impaired 800-462-7585 for victims to apply for assistance. Registration can also be done online at www.disasterassistance.gov. A damage assessment by IEMA reported that 1,082 homes in Washington have been classified as destroyed or with major damage. Statewide, the estimated 24 tornadoes to touch down on Nov. 17 damaged 2,441 homes with about 1,000 of those homes were declared uninhabitable.
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