Durbin: Severe Weather Has Hit Illinois From Chicago to Cairo, State Needs Relief Funding Without Delay

Senator explains that relief in the wake of major disasters should not be held hostage by partisan debate

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on members of Congress to support a supplemental appropriations bill for the Disaster Relief Fund as requested by President Obama.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin described the need for federal aid in a year that has seen a blizzard and two severe floods affect communities throughout Illinois as well as record breaking hurricanes and wildfires in other parts of the country.  The disaster relief fund gives families and businesses a helping hand working to rebuild their homes, businesses and communities.  Recently, there have been nearly unprecedented calls in Congress for offsetting disaster relief funding with funds from other parts of the budget.  Durbin explained that while he believes fiscal responsibility should be shared by all, it should not come at the expense of federal disaster aid.


“In Illinois, thousands of people from Chicago to Cairo are making repairs to their homes and businesses after a blizzard and two major flooding events inundated the state this year,” said Durbin. “Three counties – Carroll, Jo Daviess and Stephenson – have had three major disasters within the past year.  These residents did not anticipate the blizzard that hit the state in February, nor did they anticipate the record rainfall that caused major flooding in May, June and July.  They are just trying to put their homes and lives back together.  We cannot hold hostage this desperately needed relief because of a partisan debate here in Washington.”


While waiting for a supplemental appropriations bill to be passed by Congress, FEMA has frozen some disaster relief funding in order to pay for the “immediate needs” of disaster-stricken communities.  This step means that recovery projects that were initiated after major disasters earlier this year or in recent years could be stopped in their tracks.  Durbin explained the impact of this move on Illinois and the need to provide supplemental funding as soon as possible to prevent future damage or injuries in other natural disasters.


“If the money is frozen, it means that many of the repairs being made to recover from flooding and storms in April and May will not be reimbursed,” said Durbin.  “Metropolis, Illinois, for instance, will not be reimbursed for flood damage to the Girl Scout building there.  The City of Carmi will not be reimbursed for wind damage to the roof of its public works garage.  We need to provide FEMA with the funds it needs to ensure that all federal disaster requests are met.  We cannot allow structures to sit unfinished -- just waiting for the next hurricane or flood to cause more damage.”