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Rep. Brady Wants Disaster Relief Rules Eased Following Flooding

Dan Brady speaking at news conference
Eric Stock
State Rep. Dan Brady said he plans to pursue ways to make disaster relief more readily available, following severe flooding in McLean County in June.

An Illinois lawmaker from Bloomington says the government should lower loss requirements for financial relief after severe storms and other emergencies.

Republican State Rep. Dan Brady said low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration can help people who suffered flood damage this summer, but he'd like to see more.

“First choice was federal or IEMA help, but those thresholds are so high for uninsurable damage that they really need to be looked at and I intend to do that, whether that’s legislative-wise or another way,” Brady said. “I’ve learned a lot in this situation in this flood.”

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has said the county would need to have close to $20 million in damages and a per-capita minimum of close to $660,000 to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis also has expressed frustration over FEMA’s formula for determining disaster relief.

The late June flooding exposed the city of Bloomington’s aging infrastructure in some parts of town — in part, combined water and sewer lines that contributed to raw sewage backing up into some basements.

The city has a plan to separate a small fraction of those lines over the next decade, but city officials have said replacing all of those lines soon would not be feasible.

Brady said there likely isn’t additional state funding for Bloomington to expedite its under-the-ground infrastructure work, but added the city could redirect some funds set aside for other projects.

“One of the areas of capital dollars that we direct toward the city, they may want to explore some of those capital dollars going toward some of this infrastructure,” Brady said on WGLT's Sound Ideas. “It’s going to be a very minimal drop in the bucket toward what really needs to be done, but it’s a start.”

Political maps

On another topic, Brady said he expects a judge will throw out Illinois' political maps.

Census data released Aug. 12 show wide population disparities in some legislative districts. The Democrat-controlled Illinois legislature drew and approved the maps.

Brady said this is the latest example of Illinois' flawed map-making process.

“You have a strong likelihood that the federal courts are going to say, ‘No, legislature, stay out of it now. It’s going to be a bipartisan group that’s been appointed or it’s going to be a court-appointed director to draw these maps,’” Brady said.

Brady thinks a commission could redraw the maps before next year's elections. Illinois moved its 2022 primary election from March to June because the coronavirus pandemic delayed census data collection.

A lawsuit Republican leaders filed over the legislative maps is scheduled to go to trial in late September in Chicago.

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Corrected: August 20, 2021 at 3:07 PM CDT
WGLT corrected the financial threshold required for FEMA assistance.
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