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FEMA Denies Aid To Nine Counties In Tornado-Ravaged Central Illinois

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ILLINOIS TORNADOES
In this Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 photo, Curt Zehr talks with a firefighter at the site of his home just outside Washington, Ill., hours after it was destroyed by a tornado. Since the tornado Zehr and his family have rented a house but are trying to clear his farm fields of trash and debris so they can plant crops in the spring. (AP Photo/David Mercer) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Residents in central Illinois are upset that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied requests to aid the area after deadly tornadoes swept in mid-November.

FEMA notified the state Thursday that it was denying the $6.1 million request for local governments "on grounds the damage wasn't severe enough," the Associated Press reports. The decision impacts Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne and Woodford counties.

The threshold for federal assistance in Illinois of $17.8 million, though appeals can be made to include new costs that didn't make the original application.

Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday he was "disappointed" in FEMA's decision.

“My Administration will immediately work to develop a strong appeal that demonstrates how much this assistance is needed," Quinn said in a statement. "The state of Illinois will continue doing everything necessary to help our hardest hit communities rebuild and recover from these historic tornadoes.”

(Read Gov. Quinn's full statement on FEMA's decision.)

Gary Manier, the mayor of Washington, Ill. told the Peoria Journal-Star in the month since FEMA made its assessment, the perception of the damage has actually worsened.

“Unfortunately, sometimes you have to turn these applications in earlier than before you’ve done due diligence to the entire process and know what your numbers really are,” Manier said. “Debris removal is probably one of the biggest as far as man-hours and taking debris to the landfill. Everything comes at a cost."

As the Tribune notes, assistance given to towns is separate from money given to to individuals and businesses; more than $10 million in federal aid has already been approved to help the latter two recover.

FEMA twice denied disaster funding to Harrisburg, Ill. after it was demolished by tornadoes in 2012.

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