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Federal disaster assistance to help unemployed

CHICAGO – Individuals and business owners out of work as a result of the Nov. 17 tornadoes and high winds might be eligible for federal disaster unemployment assistance.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced the assistance is part of a series of programs available after President Barack Obama agreed to Gov. Pat Quinn’s request of a federal disaster declaration, according to a news release from IDES.

Two EF4 tornadoes killed at least seven people and injured many more Nov. 17. An EF2 tornado came through the Coal City and Diamond area, injuring four people and damaging more than 200 homes. The National Weather Service has said 24 tornadoes were reported that day, damaging more than 2,441 homes.

The counties declared disaster areas are Champaign, Douglas, Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, LaSalle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Vermillion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford counties.

Individuals whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of tornadoes might be eligible for financial assistance, according to the news release. The federal disaster declaration enables people in the area to access temporary housing, grants or loans to help with losses. Businesses might qualify for low-interest loans as well.

Applications are available at IDES offices. The deadline to apply is Jan. 2. To apply, individuals will need their Social Security number; the name and address of their employer; and proof tornadoes interrupted the opportunity to work. A copy of the most recent federal income tax forms or check stub also might be required.

Individuals generally can receive benefits as long as their unemployment continues to be a result of this disaster.

Also eligible to apply for disaster unemployment assistance are individuals who can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a result of a disaster; cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury caused as a direct result of the disaster; became the breadwinner of a household because the head of the household died as a result of the disaster; or cannot work or perform self-employment because of a closure of a facility by the federal government.

Individuals who might be eligible for assistance must file a claim with the IDES. The agency’s offices are open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Federal assistance also might be available through FEMA; call 800-621-3362 or visit to register.

Available assistance to people and businesses includes grants, low-interest loans for homeowners, crisis counseling, legal aid and assistance with income tax, Social Security and veteran benefits also are available.

Businesses and private not-for-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

Loans also are available to some businesses for economic losses.

For information, visit

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