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Letter to President Obama

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) were joined by the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation today sending a letter to President Obama asking him to issue a major disaster declaration for the State of Illinois and to provide relief to the five Southern Illinois counties affected by severe storms and tornadoes last week. A Presidential disaster declaration would allow cities and counties to apply for federal reimbursements to help pay for storm damage repairs.

"In the early hours of February 29, severe storms and tornadoes tore through the southern part of our state," the Illinois members wrote. "Preliminary damage assessments indicate that damage was done to homes, businesses, buildings, trees, utility poles, electrical service, and transportation routes in these counties. The economic impact on the community as a result of businesses being destroyed is severe and the demand for state and local government resources for emergency response, debris removal, and the repair of public property is extraordinary. Taking care of the needs of the people is of utmost importance."

Yesterday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sent a letter to President Obama requesting a major disaster declaration for five counties in Southern Illinois -- Gallatin, Randolph, Saline, Union, and Williamson -- due to the storms and tornadoes that ravaged the counties leaving local governments, charitable organizations, voluntary agencies and evacuees taking on the initial costs of the disasters.

Members signing on to today's letter include Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Danny Davis (D-IL), Robert Dold (R-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Tim Johnson (R-IL), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Don Manzullo (R-IL), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Bobby Schilling (R-IL) Aaron Schock (R-IL), John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Walsh (R-IL).

March 8, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. President:

We write to support Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's request for a federal disaster declaration for the State of Illinois as a result of deadly tornadoes and severe storms that occurred February 29 through March 2, 2012. Gallatin, Randolph, Saline, Union and Williamson Counties are affected. Governor Quinn has already declared these counties state disaster areas.

In the early hours of February 29, severe storms and tornadoes tore through the southern part of our state. High winds caused damage to homes in Randolph and Union counties. Around 5 o'clock in the morning, an EF4 tornado touched down in the City of Harrisburg in Saline County and an EF3 tornado touched down in the Village of Ridgway in Gallatin County. Sadly, seven people in Harrisburg lost their lives as a result of the tornado. Hospitals in the area reported seventy-two tornado- and storm-related injuries. Severe damage occurred along the entire tornado path.

Preliminary damage assessments indicate that damage was done to homes, businesses, buildings, trees, utility poles, electrical service, and transportation routes in these counties. The economic impact on the community as a result of businesses being destroyed is severe and the demand for state and local government resources for emergency response, debris removal, and the repair of public property is extraordinary. Taking care of the needs of the people is of utmost importance.

This impact of this disaster on the affected counties is compounded by its proximity to devastating floods that struck less than a year ago. Gallatin, Saline, and Williamson counties were still recovering from the major flood disaster declared in April 2011 when this deadly tornado struck. Saline County suffered far more damage from the recent tornado than it did from the dramatic flooding of last April, when it was declared a federal disaster.

Governor Quinn has determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and local governments. Supplementary federal assistance is necessary. We urge you to approve Individual Assistance and Small Business Administration disaster loans for Gallatin, Randolph, Saline, Union and Williamson counties. We also urge you to approve Hazard Mitigation Assistance for all counties statewide.

We respectfully request that you make the necessary declaration so that people in these five counties can receive the assistance they need to remove debris and repair damage. We thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this important request and stand ready to assist in any way appropriate.


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