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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Federal Disaster Declaration in Illinois

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roland Burris (D-IL) were joined by members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation today in requesting that President Obama declare nine Illinois counties - Alexander, Gallatin, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline and Union - federal disaster areas. Members signing on to today's letter include Representatives Jerry Costello (D-IL), Bill Foster (D-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Debbie Halverson (D-IL), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Tim Johnson (R-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Aaron Schock (R-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL).

"We write to support Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's request for a federal disaster declaration for nine counties in southern Illinois affected by severe winter storms," the Illinois members wrote. "In the past year, Illinois has experienced ice storms, floods, and tornadoes, leading to three separate federal disaster declarations. Recovery efforts are still ongoing in counties affected by historic flooding levels in June 2008. These disasters have exhausted the resources of the state and local governments affected by the most recent ice storms."

Severe ice storms last month downed trees and electrical lines and cut power to more than 12,000 homes in Illinois. Governor Quinn has already declared these counties state disaster areas. With a federal disaster declaration, these nine counties can receive Public Assistance to cover 75 percent of the costs associated with removing debris, restoring electrical power, and repairing municipal and electronic cooperative distribution systems.

The text of the letter appears below:

February 13, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to support Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's request for a federal disaster declaration for nine counties in southern Illinois affected by severe winter storms beginning on January 26, 2009, and continuing through January 28, 2009. Governor Quinn has already declared these counties state disaster areas.

Severe ice storms last month downed trees and electrical lines and cut power to more than 12,000 homes. On January 30, 2009, Governor Quinn issued a state disaster declaration for Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, and Union counties. A second state disaster declaration was made for Saline and Gallatin counties on February 13, 2009. Damage assessments performed by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggest that response and recovery efforts could exceed $16 million.

In the past year, Illinois has experienced ice storms, floods, and tornadoes, leading to three separate federal disaster declarations. Recovery efforts are still ongoing in counties affected by historic flooding levels in June 2008. These disasters have exhausted the resources of the state and local governments affected by the most recent ice storms.

We respectfully request that you make the necessary declaration so that local governments, municipally-owned utilities, and electronic power cooperatives in these nine counties can receive the Public Assistance they need to remove debris, restore electrical power, and repair municipal and electronic cooperative distribution systems. 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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