Millions of dollars for southern Ill. tornado recovery

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - Finally the hundreds of people in southern Illinois affected by the February 29 tornado are going to get some relief from the State of Illinois.

The $13 million assistance package is a combined effort of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois Finance Authority, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Housing Development Authority and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

"These funds will help the local governments with their emergency protection services expenses, such as overtime for fire, police and debris removal," said IEMA Assistant Director Joe Klinger. " We have put forth $1.5 million to help local governments in paying for all of that."

The announcement was made on the Harrisburg City Hall steps. And city leaders in Harrisburg and Ridgway were pleased to hear that they're going to get some help rebuilding their communities.

"We had some individuals that did not have insurance. They have been sitting back waiting. We have some businesses that did not have insurance. They also have been sitting back trying to decide what they're going to do," said Ridgway Mayor Becky Mitchell. "We have lost a couple of businesses because of the tornado and we can't afford to lose anymore. So this is a real big asset for our community."

The funds will also help the communities recoup funds that we're virtually wiped out by the tornado.

"We had to pay people that came out to work overtime. And we had a tremendous amount of overtime," said Harrisburg Finance Commissioner/Interim Mayor Ron Crank. " And we had to find the money to pay for them. So we did that, now they've run our funds short. But with the governor's help and everything we might be able to come out of this."

There is also more than $1 million available to people who were underinsured or who had no insurance at all.

Each homeowner will qualify for up to $40,000 to help them rebuild or replace their homes.

"I think it's great. When FEMA denied us any help it was very sad for people that didn't have insurance," said Crystal Mitchell of Harrisburg. " And for us who had a little bit of insurance but not enough to replace our home, I'm very grateful for what they're doing."

The additional state funds are on top of the already $1.4 million of in-kind state assistance already provided to the affected region.

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