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Please help Harrisburg Illinois Appeal FEMA’s Denial of Disaster Funding | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Please help Harrisburg Illinois Appeal FEMA’s Denial of Disaster Funding

Harrisburg IL devastated after an EF4 tornado. Photo by Jordan Vandenberge

Caveat with this blog: tonight, I’m one angry writing mother.

Why? FEMA denied disaster aid to Harrisburg, Illinois.

Disclaimer: I was born in Carbondale, Illinois and grew up in southern Illinois. The part of Harrisburg, Illinois that was flattened last week by an EF4 tornado is in the part of town where I spent my teen years cruising up and down the street with my friends, hoping we might meet a car full of cute guys.

In a 3 day period when our area was inundated with tornados, Harrisburg got the brunt of early storms. 7 people died. The people and homes in the tornado’s path didn’t stand a chance as it flattened their town.

Does a tornado have to flatten a bigger community to be considered for FEMA aid? Should Harrisburg have been located next to Chicago, home of our sitting president to get aid instead of being in a forgotten corner of the state that’s ravaged by a state economic crisis?

Though I am now a happy Hoosier, my heart breaks for my southern Illinois friends. If you know ways anyone can help them appeal this FEMA ruling and get disaster aid that’s desperately needed, please comment below.

This haunting photo, taken in the tornado aftermath, haunts me on multiple levels. A replica of Mickey Mouse leans against a storm-damaged home. It looks like Mickey is searching for the American dream.

Aftermath of tornado devastation in Harrisburg IL. Photo by Jordan Vandenberge

When I was a girl growing up in southern Illinois, the big picture book on our coffee table was the story of Walt Disney, and that same image of Mickey was in 3-D relief on the book’s cover. I often looked at the picture of Mickey and saw in it Walt’s quest for the American dream. That dream is a little harder to grab for some in southern Illinois. They have hearts as big as the Midwestern prairie and are willing to work hard, but the sad state of the Illinois economy makes it harder for them to capture just a corner of the American dream. And now, after an EF-4 tornado, without FEMA help or help from somebody, their recovery is going to be a lot tougher.

My question to the FEMA bureaucrats who approved disaster aid in other areas ravaged by last week’s storms and apparently didn’t think this corner of the damage mattered, I can only quote George Bailey about those who will suffer as a result:

“They do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?”

If you know other ways we, as individuals can help this community that apparently isn’t big enough to matter to FEMA, please share them.

Follow up blog: How to Help Harrisburg, Illinois.


5 Responses to “Please help Harrisburg Illinois Appeal FEMA’s Denial of Disaster Funding”

  1. Kim March 12, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    If we all send letters to the following addresses then someone has to open all that mail. It might not do any good but it won’t hurt anything to send letters to these offices. The more people who send something, the more likely they will be to react….

    FEMA U.S. Department of Homeland Security 500 C Street, SW Washington, DC 20472

    Andrew Velasquez III, Regional Administrator, FEMA Region V
    536 S. Clark Street Chicago, IL 60605

  2. maryb March 12, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Thanks for the suggestion. I would appreciate any others. Surely there are ways southern Illinois’ friends and neighbors can help.

  3. shayann March 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Sending letters is always a good idea. The more people the better. Have you considered getting a petition going on Change.org ?

  4. spearcarrier March 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    I own a house in Harrisburg: we chose to buy there because of how friendly everyone was when my husband was trying to find a place for me to live before he redeployed to Iraq. We’re still active military and are located in Fort Polk, but our long term plans are to return to our house and live there when he gets out. That house is our dream home and investment.

    We were one of the lucky ones. Our house still stands, and the damage we sustained was a couple of broken windows and roof damage. These are all things our insurance company is prepared to have not just repaired but completely replaced, and for a while there our only worry was somehow raising our large deductible.

    But now, because of this FEMA mess, the city has put a condemnation notice in front of our house! They’re doing it to everybody on the block. It has stacked the worry on us by a million percent. My husband is only an E4: we didn’t think we could manage our deductible much less this. And I’m sure we’re not the only ones.

    So please everyone get the word out of the horror this is causing us. It’s turned into a political mess, and all us little guys can do is worry we don’t lose our world in the crossfire.

  5. analytics/goo.gl/MN1cc9/two_hours June 21, 2015 at 11:37 am #

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