Gov. Blagojevich asks President Bush
for federal disaster declaration covering St. Clair, Madison,
Clinton, Jefferson and Washington counties
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Federal declaration would give
residents, businesses and local governments access to financial
assistance in effort to recover from severe storm damage
[JULY 27, 2006]
CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Wednesday
asked President Bush to declare five Metro East counties as federal
disaster areas in the wake of the severe storms that battered the
region last week on Wednesday and again on Friday. A federal
disaster declaration would enable people, businesses and local
governments in the affected areas to apply for grants and loans to
help with storm-related losses. Counties in the governor's request
are St. Clair, Madison, Clinton, Jefferson and Washington.
The governor had declared all five counties disaster areas, with
Washington County being declared on Wednesday. The state declaration
makes it possible for local units of government to be partially
reimbursed for extraordinary costs incurred during the disaster
response and cleanup.
"The Metro East region was hit especially
hard twice by these storms, hundreds of thousands of people have
been without electricity, and some have lost their homes. We know
that the road to recovery in this region will be a long one, so
today I asked President Bush for federal assistance," Blagojevich
said after reviewing the first damage assessment reports submitted
by local officials.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to be on-site
Friday morning to begin a preliminary damage assessment, the first
step toward securing a federal declaration. The initial reports
submitted by local officials showed more than 2,600 homes damaged in
the five-county area, and those numbers included totals from just a
handful of communities. Included in that number were eight homes
destroyed and 180 that had sustained major damage.
The state has been intensively involved with response and
recovery efforts in the Metro East since last week. The governor
directed agencies to aid in response:
Illinois Emergency Management Agency and county emergency
services and disaster agencies to work with the local Red Cross
to establish cooling centers in the area during the early days
of the power outage, when heat indexes reached 115 degrees.
State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield on Friday to
coordinate state response efforts to the storm-ravaged areas.
The governor also dispatched the Illinois Emergency Management
Agency's Unified Area Command vehicle to the Metro East. The
unit is providing coordinated assistance with the recovery
efforts in the entire region.
damage assessment teams a week ago to identify the areas of
greatest need and evaluate the damage.
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily waive
the requirement that gasoline distributors sell a special
gasoline blend in the Metro East region.
Sent a letter to
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requesting waivers to
avoid any fuel shortages following the devastating storms. The
U.S. EPA has granted Blagojevich's request to waive the
requirement that gasoline distributors sell a special gasoline
blend in the Metro East region: St. Clair, Madison and Monroe.
The waiver is for 10 days and will be effective through Aug. 4.
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Illinois EPA to expedite the review of the construction permits
requested by ConocoPhillips to install portable cooling towers
so that their refinery in Wood River can resume production after
sustaining damage in the storms.
Sent equipment and
staff from the Illinois Department of Transportation to the
affected areas to remove downed trees, branches and other
of work crews from the Illinois Department of Corrections to
provide much-needed labor.
Illinois Department of Human Services' emergency help line for
Metro East residents in need of social services. The toll-free
number is 1 (800) 568-0446 voice or 1 (800) 447-6404 TTY.
To date, Illinois departments and agencies have responded by
providing the following aid and assistance:
The Department of
Natural Resources provided chain saws and operators for debris
The Illinois State
Police provided law enforcement assistance, upon request, to
local law enforcement agencies.
Emergency Management Agency distributed more than 15,000
The Department of
Human Services issued replacement food stamps to 10,000 people
whose food was destroyed.
Emergency Management Agency delivered 18,750 bags of ice.
The Department of
Corrections delivered more than 85,000 eight-ounce containers of
work crews and more than 150 Department of Transportation
trucks, chippers, backhoes and end loaders removed more than
275,000 cubic yards of debris.
[News release from the governor's