Massac County Won't Get FEMA Public Assistance
MASSAC CO. -- Brookport and Massac County officials are dealing with some unwelcomed news after FEMA denied the state's request for public assistance. They were hoping to use that money to help pay for the tremendous amount of overtime needed after the Nov. 17 tornadoes.
Unlike the individual assistance, which FEMA approved early on for homeowners and business owners, the public assistance would have helped local governments. But it was deja vu for southern Illinois.
This time was supposed to be different from the Leap Day tornado.
"The devastation here is 10 times worse than what occurred in Harrisburg and it was very bad in Harrisburg," exclaimed Governor Pat Quinn on November 25th.
This time it wasn't just a couple of counties that were impacted; nine counties saw devastation beyond belief.
"Anybody who's been to Brookport, you probably know, the second or third day after the tornado hit, how can you deny anything," says Massac County Emergency Director Joe Miller.
But Thursday afternoon, hearts dropped as FEMA once again denied Illinois public assistance.
"It was disappointing to find out that we didn't qualify for it," describe County Sheriff Ted holder.
The preliminary damage assessment of $6 million hardly came close to the $17.8 million FEMA threshold for the state.
"It's based on how much the dollar amounts are, how much of a disaster there is, and whether or not the state and the local communities have the ability to recover from those public damages," explains FEMA Spokesperson Darrell Habisch.
Governor Pat Quinn says he will appeal the decision. It gives Sheriff Ted Holder another chance to hope, but that sentiment is now tempered.
"I think what I turned in was about $10,000 for overtime, fuel, vehicle maintenance," says Holder.
And if the denial stands, he hopes it doesn't put the county in jeopardy for the next disaster that could strike.
"In the last 10 years, we've had five. We've had two tornadoes, a flood, and two ice storms. So, not to say we're getting used to disasters down here, but it's becoming almost a yearly thing for us."
Miller says each department is still putting together final damage numbers. They hope to include those in the state's appeal. Governor Quinn says he'll also add all the difficulty the cold weather has brought to the counties.
Wind: 10 MPH
Humidity: 72 %