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Another Chance For Tornado-Ravaged Towns

Lee Strubinger/WUIS

Illinois' Congressional delegation is trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to revise how it distributes aid after natural disasters. As WUIS has previously reported, the lawmakers tried before to no avail.

When a tornado touched down in southern Illinois several years ago, devastating the small town of Harrisburg, FEMA turned down Illinois' request for disaster assistance.

It happened again last year. FEMA rejected Illinois' request following tornadoes that in late 2013 spun paths of destruction in towns like Washington and Gifford.

Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, as well as several members of the U.S. House, say it's because FEMA uses a flawed formula --- one that unfairly disadvantages small communities in states like Illinois, that have large populations, because of big cities, like Chicago.

They've introduced a plan to revise the formula. It would have FEMA take the size of a local tax base and poverty rate into account.

They've tried this before; but the effort stalled.

If this latest try proves successful, it could be big for Harrisburg, Gifford and Washington --- the measure calls for FEMA to use the revised formula retroactively, to 2012.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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