"After personally surveying the damage and talking to many residents
who lost their homes, I firmly believe federal assistance is crucial
to help them begin the recovery process," Quinn said Sunday in a
A powerful tornado on Feb.29 left seven people dead in
the southern Illinois community of Harrisburg. The tornado was part
of a series of damaging storms that swept the area Feb. 29 through
Quinn's office on Thursday had sought a major disaster
declaration for the state and assistance for Gallatin, Randolph,
Saline, Union and Williamson counties.
FEMA, in its letter to Quinn on Saturday announcing its decision,
said: "Based on our review of all the information available, it has
been determined that the damage was not of such severity and
magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the State, affected
local governments and voluntary agencies."
Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk also issued a statement Sunday
denouncing the ruling and seeking a meeting with FEMA Administrator
W. Craig Fugate to discuss the decision, which they called
"We fully support the appeal that Gov. Quinn is putting
together," they said in the statement.
Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson said Sunday that a decision had
not yet been made on whether to appeal FEMA's decision. She said the
governor supported Durbin's efforts to work with federal officials
and that his office has 30 days to decide whether to appeal the
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"I can't believe this," Durbin said Sunday in Springfield,
according to the State Journal-Register. "I've never seen worse
tornado damage. We owe it to the people to make sure damage was
accurate and everything was accounted for."
FEMA spokesman Mark J. Peterson on Sunday evening reiterated that
his agency's review found the damage to be within the capabilities
of state and local government and other groups to manage. He said
FEMA has worked closely with the state and local governments since
the tornadoes. He said the state can work "with other federal
agencies" and that "FEMA remains committed to working with Illinois
in its recovery."
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