FEMA team conducts Preliminary Damage Assessment in Washington

By WEEK Reporter

November 21, 2013 Updated Nov 22, 2013 at 12:09 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partnered with state and local disaster management teams to conduct this week's Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) in Washington to determine the damage of Sunday's tornadoes.

Two teams worked their way through the hardest hit areas of Washington, placing each house under one of four categories: "destroyed," "uninhabitable with major damage," "uninhabitable with minor damage", and "affected".

Each team includes a member from FEMA, IEMA, the Small Business Administration, and a local disaster management representative.

IEMA confirms that Sunday's tornadoes touched down 22 times in Illinois. It also confirmed from its Initial Damage Assessment that a total of 1,484 homes are either destroyed or uninhabitable with major damage. More than 1,000 of those homes are in Washington alone.

IEMA suspects that this process will continue throughout the weekend. Damage assessment teams will be sending their results to FEMA in hopes for Tazewell County to receive a Federal Disaster Declaration.

"These numbers really count in terms of getting that federal declaration," said Jonathan Monken, IEMA Director. "That's what this process is really about. If we can get that federal assistance, that's a huge difference for people in the community."

Receiving this declaration will allow for tornado survivors to access federal funding in the form of grants and low interest loans from the Sponsored Projects Administration. Resident who apply for these grants could receive up to $32,400 worth of aid. As for the low-interest loans, residents could receive up to $250,000 worth of aid.

As of Thursday, Governor Quinn has asked disaster assessment teams to examine 15 counties, Vermilion being one of the newly added counties. Thursday FEMA had three to four other teams exploring other areas including Pope, Douglas, Champaign, Grundy, Will and LaSalle County.

IEMA & FEMA expect that these teams will work every day this week from early afternoon until sundown.