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Letter to President George W. Bush, Re: Federal Assistance to 21 Southern Illinois Counties

Durbin, Obama: IL Delegation Members Urge President Bush to Provide Federal Assistance to 21 Southern Illinois Counties

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Barack Obama (D-IL) were joined by members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation today in asking President Bush to provide federal assistance to twenty-one southern Illinois counties after severe flooding that hit the region in March.

The Illinois members wrote: "At least five major flood events have impacted Illinois in the last year alone, including historic levels of flooding in June. These events have exhausted the resources of state and local governments, making federal assistance necessary to help these communities recover. We appreciate FEMA's assistance to date and respectfully request that you make the necessary declaration so that residents of affected areas can receive the federal disaster assistance essential to a successful recovery. We thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this urgent request and stand ready to assist in any way appropriate."

Durbin and Obama were joined by Representatives Ray LaHood (R-IL), Bill Foster (D-IL), John Shimkus (R-IL), Danny Davis (D-IL), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Phil Hare (R-IL) in their request for federal assistance.

Today's letter was sent in support of Governor Rod Blagojevich's request for a decision on his pending requests for federal disaster assistance as a result of severe flooding that began in March. Earlier this year, Illinois Delegation members supported Blagojevich's request for Individual Assistance for residents in 15 counties: Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, White, and Williamson. Additionally, he requested Public Assistance be made available to help cover the costs of debris removal for local governments in 21 counties: Alexander, Fayette, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, Union, Wayne, White and Williamson.

According to Preliminary Damage Assessments, more than 200 homes sustained major damage or were destroyed by the flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates the costs incurred by State and local governments to exceed $12 million, due to flood-related damage to roads, bridges, water control facilities, and other public infrastructure.

Text of the letter appears below:

August 15, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to support Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's request for federal assistance for 21 counties in southern Illinois as a result of severe flooding in March. Gov. Blagojevich has already declared these counties state disaster areas.

Storms in late March produced extremely heavy rains and flooding in southern Illinois, leading the state to request Individual Assistance for residents in 15 counties: Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, White, and Williamson. According to Preliminary Damage Assessments, more than 200 homes sustained major damage or were destroyed by the flooding. In addition, the state has also requested Public Assistance to help cover the costs of debris removal for local governments in 21 counties: Alexander, Fayette, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, Union, Wayne, White and Williamson. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates the costs incurred by State and local governments to exceed $12 million, due to flood-related damage to roads, bridges, water control facilities, and other public infrastructure.

On May 23, Gov. Blagojevich submitted a letter appealing the federal government's denial of Individual Assistance for the 15 counties. On May 27, he submitted a separate request for Public Assistance for the 21 counties. On June 24, a third letter requested information on the state of those requests for federal disaster assistance. To date, the state has not received a response.

At least five major flood events have impacted Illinois in the last year alone, including historic levels of flooding in June. These events have exhausted the resources of state and local governments, making federal assistance necessary to help these communities recover. We appreciate FEMA's assistance to date and respectfully request that you make the necessary declaration so that residents of affected areas can receive the federal disaster assistance essential to a successful recovery. We thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this urgent request and stand ready to assist in any way appropriate.

Sincerely,
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
U.S. Senator


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