Lawmaker seeks 'level playing field' for disaster response

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Pictured: Kincaid flooding cleanup Pictured: Kincaid flooding cleanup

ILLINOIS (WAND) – An Illinois lawmaker says he wants the federal response to disasters to change.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R) and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) worked together to introduce H.R. 1665, or the Disaster Declaration Improvement Act. They want the U.S. government to change how it prioritizes who gets federal funding when natural disasters happen.

The measure passed the Illinois House on Thursday.

Davis remembers flooding that dealt $15 million in damage across Illinois at the end of 2015, especially in central Illinois, as he pushes for the bill.

“It’s time rural Illinois starts getting a fair shake as well,” Davis said. “Year after year, my constituents have been unfairly punished by FEMA’s process. This is wrong. Taxpayers in my district pay into the Disaster Relief Fund and it should be there for them when they need it.”

In late December of 2015, several central Illinois areas dealt with serious flooding. In the town of Kincaid, rising waters affected 18 families. Flooding also affected southwest Illinois. The federal government denied Illinois any funding as the communities worked to clean up.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses a per-capita method to decide how much public assistance is needed in natural disasters, multiplying each population by $1.39 to reach a threshold. In Illinois, that number is $18 million.

Illinois was denied flooding assistance when Gov. Bruce Rauner requested it, even though one county of the 16 he requested help for needed $4 million in assistance on its own.

A press release from Rep. Davis’ office says he has worked on the disaster funding issue since 2013

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