COAL CITY – Residents of Coal City and the surrounding area affected by the June 22 EF3 tornado might be eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans to help rebuild.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has submitted a request for U.S. Small Business Administration assistance to help residents and businesses in Grundy and Iroquois counties to recover from tornadoes, floods and storms that occurred in June and July, according to a news release from Rauner’s office.
Coal City Village Administrator Matt Fritz said Friday the community and Long Term Recovery Committee have focused on the uninsured loss numbers to provide to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to see what assistance is available.
“What has been expressed to us is that the request is being submitted to the SBA, because they will be able to assist us,” Fritz said.
Joe Schroeder, director of the Grundy County Emergency Management Agency, said Friday they have been working with teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the SBA and IEMA to see if the area would qualify for a federal disaster declaration.
Rauner would have to ask for the FEMA disaster declaration and the request must meet strict parameters. The threshold, which is based on the state’s population of 12.8 million, for Illinois is nearly $18.1 million storm-related expenses. Each county would need to meet a threshold of $3.56 multiplied by the affected county’s population. Both thresholds must be met to qualify.
If a FEMA disaster declaration is obtained, the village of Coal City, along with the county, could receive 75 percent of the money needed to repair from the federal government.
Earlier this month, Rauner included Grundy County in a disaster proclamation for 23 Illinois counties. Federal, state and local officials from the 23 counties gathered documentation of storm-related expenses to see if they could meet the thresholds for federal assistance.
According to the news release, the total eligible costs from the 23 counties for several weather incidents during a six-week period totaled about $15 million – more than $3 million shy of the needed amount.
Schroeder said many people don’t realize those costs don’t take into account the entire amount of damage. In many cases, it just takes into account what wasn’t covered.
Fritz said Coal City submitted costs that exceeded $3 million, but after the agencies reviewed the receipts the village had only more than $1 million in receipts to be counted.
The assessments by the agencies found 297 homes in seven counties were destroyed or sustained major damage from several storms. About 1,400 other homes sustained less-severe damage during the same time period. A high percentage of the damaged homes had insurance.
Schroeder said the high percentage of insured homes significantly brings down the allowed amount to claim.
Fritz said he understands the public has an assumption of assistance based on the size of the weather event, but in reality, it’s the dollar amounts that can trigger assistance.
“It doesn’t mean residents should be without hope,” Fritz said. “There are legislators who can work on their behalf.”