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State

Thousands apply for tornado recovery assistance

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 2,000 people in counties declared federal disaster areas after tornadoes struck Illinois in November have applied for federal assistance, state officials announced Tuesday.

Gov. Pat Quinn visited the central Illinois community of Washington, which was the hardest hit when roughly two dozen tornadoes hit on Nov. 17.

"As Illinois heads into a new year, many of our neighbors in Central and Southern Illinois are continuing to rebuild their lives after deadly tornadoes ravaged their communities," Quinn said in a statement. "Federal assistance is an important part of our recovery efforts and I urge everyone who suffered damage or loss to make sure they register for federal aid."

Quinn's office said more than $1.6 million in federal grants and more than $5.6 million in low-interest loans have already been approved. Fifteen counties were declared federal disaster areas. People in federally designated counties may seek grants and loans to help with recovery.

Washington was hit hard by one of the roughly two dozen tornadoes that raked the state. Seven people died and thousands of homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Also Tuesday, Quinn signed legislation allowing the state to pay its share of disaster recovery money that the Federal Emergency Management Agency poured into the state help people after flooding in the spring. That included funding to replace personal property damaged or lost. The state's match, which represents about a quarter of the federal money, was $5.9 million. The bill unanimously passed the House and Senate and the law is effectively immediately.

In April, nearly half of the state was affected by record floods following severe storms. Thousands of homes were damaged. Dozens of counties were declared federal disaster areas.

"We need to be there for people when emergencies and disasters occur," said state Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat who helped sponsor the bill. This law means resources are available to help people get back on their feet in their time of need."

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The bill is SB1955

Online: www.ilga.gov

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