Process for federal disaster aid begins in Central Illinois counties

By Marshanna Hester

April 29, 2013 Updated Apr 29, 2013 at 10:35 PM CDT

LONDON MILLS, Ill. -- Because of the floods, one-out-of-four homes in London Mills is a total loss. Many of those residents don't have flood insurance because they were not in a flood plain.

Monday, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos visited residents who were removing debris from their homes.

Fulton County officials want to remind flood victims to document everything.

They are half-way through individual assessments. Early numbers show the damage in Fulton County is at least $1.5 million.

"It's a very scary number," said Chris Helle, director of the Fulton County Emergency Services Disaster Agency. "We're a very rural county which is made up of a lot of amazing people. I think we'll come together and we'll be fine."

Bustos says Congress will make sure assistance is available. But another priority is working to make sure a disaster like this doesn't happen again.

"I think there's something wrong with the term 100-year flood," said Bustos. "When we've seen in some cases the 100-year flood hit three times in eight years for example. There is something wrong with that assessment, so I think long term we need to look at the big picture."

Congressman Aaron Schock says 11 of the 48 counties declared state disaster areas are within his district.

Schock says residents need to begin cleaning and rebuilding now and not depend on federal dollars.

"Most of the federal disaster dollars that will come will be in the form of infrastructure assistance to towns, villages, and cities. It doesn't really go to individual constituents to help with their homes," said Schock. "I know there has been a lot of misperception that somehow the federal government is going to sweep in and take care of everybody's property that's been damaged. That is really what flood insurance is for."

Governor Pat Quinn has initiated state flood damage assessments.

The data collected will be used for two applications of federal assistance: one for local governments and another for home and business owners.

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