Mayor of tornado-damaged Illinois town invited to State of the Union address

January 22, 2014 

Two months after powerful tornado inflicted severe damage on Washington, Ill., Mayor Gary W. Manier will be the guest of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Highland Park, at President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address set for Tuesday night.

Kirk, in a statement issued Wednesday, said it was time for a serious re-evaulation of how the Federal Emergency Management Agency awards aid to communities hit by tornadoes.

Kirk's call for a re-evaluation follows FEMA's decision earlier in January to refuse assistance to Illinois communities hit by the Nov. 17 tornadoes that pummeled Washington, near Peoria, and communities in Southern Illinois, including New Minden in Washington County, where two people died.

Kirk, along with U.S. Sen. Durbin, D-Springfield, sent a letter to FEMA on Jan. 14, requesting a change in FEMA's disaster zone valuation.

FEMA's current determination of public assistance aid relies heavily on the "per capita" factor, which gives larger states like Illinois a severe disadvantage when determining aid, according to Kirk.

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