Disaster declaration unlocks funding option for flood-damaged areas
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.