Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to revisit the population-based formula it uses, in part, to determine which counties and states are eligible for federal aid.
"For the second time in three years, floods have devastated portions of Cook County, and for the second time in three years, Cook municipalities aren't going to get the federal help they desperately need to rebuild," said Quigley. "This disappointing news is extremely frustrating, especially when I think back to the overwhelming damage I saw in our community after the floods. I strongly urge FEMA to revisit its current public assistance formula, which unfairly penalizes large counties and states and weakens their ability to recover after natural disasters."
Quigley noted that while municipalities in Cook County sustained between $10 and $11 million in damages during the April flood, that total was not high enough to secure federal assistance.
While the Presidential major disaster declaration has made federal aid available to individual home and business owners throughout the flood-ravaged counties of Illinois, aid eligibility for storm-wracked municipalities and local governments can vary county by county. As a key measure of eligibility, FEMA employs a formula that relies on the number of residents in each county. Thus Cook County, the second largest county in the nation, must suffer $17,922,000 in damage to satisfy the formula threshold.
Bringing greater equity to disaster declarations took on special meaning for Quigley after the July 2010 flood devastated portions of Cook County. Last June, Quigley wrote the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, asking the committee to review the criteria for disaster aid to states and counties. The committee oversees the federal disaster declaration process and FEMA disaster assistance programs through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.