Dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion un­locks fund­ing op­tion for flood-dam­aged ar­eas

Chicago Tribune - - CHICAGOLAND - By Emily K. Cole­man em­cole­man@tribpub.com Twit­ter @mek­cole­man

More busi­nesses and res­i­dents im­pacted by the flood­ing and se­vere storms that swept through north­east­ern Illi­nois in July may ap­ply for low­in­ter­est loans from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

The lim­ited as­sis­tance fol­lows a U.S. Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency de­ci­sion last week to turn down Gov. Bruce Rauner’s re­quest for a broader dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion that would have al­lowed home­own­ers to get FEMA grants.

The four Illi­nois counties de­clared dis­as­ter ar­eas by Gov. Bruce Rauner in July — Lake, Cook, Kane and McHenry — had fallen short of the $18.3 mil­lion thresh­old needed to qual­ify for fed­eral as­sis­tance, ac­cord­ing to Lake County records.

The counties iden­ti­fied $10.7 mil­lion worth of unin­sured da­m­ages to pub­lic prop­erty and other qual­i­fy­ing gov­ern­ment ex­penses.

Lake County’s flood mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures are work­ing and might be part of the rea­son the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s dam­age thresh­olds were not met, Mike Warner, the county’s stormwater man­age­ment com­mis­sion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said dur­ing a re­cent bud­get hear­ing. “We’re bet­ter in­sured, our res­i­dents are bet­ter pro­tected, and we’ve re­moved some flood da­m­ages that could have oc­curred that did not now,” Warner said.

In Au­gust, the Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion had de­clared Boone, Lake and McHenry counties el­i­gi­ble for dis­as­ter aid be­cause they were next to flood-rav­aged Kenosha, Racine and Wal­worth counties.

But the ap­pli­ca­tion cen­ters were all in Wis­con­sin, and the dead­line for ap­ply­ing was Oct. 17.

The new dec­la­ra­tion ex­tends the dead­lines, will pro­vide for ap­pli­ca­tion cen­ters in the af­fected counties in Illi­nois and opens up the low-in­ter­est, long-term loans to Cook County res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate the SBA’s quick con­sid­er­a­tion of our re­quest for as­sis­tance,” Rauner said in a news re­lease. “This will help many peo­ple and busi­nesses be­gin the next phase of their re­cov­ery from this dis­as­ter.”

Dam­age as­sess­ments of the four counties also iden­ti­fied more than 3,200 homes that were dam­aged, in­clud­ing 244 homes with ma­jor dam­age caused by the floods and storms that swept the area in July.

Most of the ma­jor dam­age was fo­cused in Lake County, with 233 homes and 21 busi­nesses sus­tain­ing ma­jor dam­age, ac­cord­ing to the as­sess­ments.

The new dead­line for busi­nesses, home­own­ers and renters seek­ing loans to help re­pair or re­place flood-dam­aged prop­erty is Jan. 12.

The dead­line for small busi­nesses and non­prof­its seek­ing work­ing cash loans to help cover the fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions they can no longer meet be­cause of the flood is Aug. 13.

More in­for­ma­tion about the loan pro­gram can be found by con­tact­ing SBA’s Dis­as­ter As­sis­tance Cus­tomer Ser­vice Cen­ter at 800-659-2955 or go­ing on­line to sba.gov/dis­as­ter.

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