Lawmakers call on feds to redo FEMA calculations

By Alex Davis |

Published 01/28 2014 05:56PM

Updated 01/31 2014 05:30PM

Update: 4:38 pm, 1/31/14, Friday
ILLINOIS -- Towns denied federal disaster assistance after November's tornado outbreak could have a second chance to claim benefits. It's part of the bill Congressman Rodney Davis (R) and other lawmakers from Illinois filed earlier this month.

They say the funding formula for FEMA aid is unfair for Illinois. That's because a big chunk of the population is in Chicago with fewer people spread throughout the rest of the state.

So, lawmakers are calling for a more regional approach instead of state-by-state approach. But, one part not discussed yet is the law would be retroactive meaning towns like Gifford could still get money for last fall's tornado damage even though FEMA already denied them.

Illinois is looking for a total $6 million in disaster aid. It includes about a half-million just for areas in Champaign County to rebuild.

Even if the bill doesn't become law, there's still a chance the towns can get the aid they're asking for. State officials are in the process of appealing FEMA's decision.
Original: 5:56 pm, 1/28/14, Tuesday
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois' lawmakers are calling on the federal government to change the way FEMA determines need for areas affected by natural disaster. Senators Dick Durbin (D) and Mark Kirk (R) say the calculations need to made "fairer."

Damage from November tornadoes totaled more than $6.1 million, but the total is short of the federal threshold of $17.8 million, which is based on Illinois' population. That's why FEMA denied aid to nine counties hit the hardest.

Lawmakers say, as of right now, the current formula hurts the chances of aid for large states with large urban centers like Illinois. That's why they've introduced a bill requiring FEMA to consider other factors such as local tax bases and poverty rates. Earlier this month, state leaders filed an appeal to the federal denial of aid.

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