FEMA, SBA address flooded community

News and notes from Sept. 4 Rockford City Council meeting

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Small Business Administration (SBA) were on hand during the Sept. 4 Rockford City Council meeting to educate aldermen and flood victims about the steps necessary for receiving federal aid.

“I can’t say enough about how important this support for Rockford and our entire county and the community is,” said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I).

A team from FEMA was deployed to Rockford late last week, just as presidential disaster declarations for Stephenson and Winnebago counties were issued Aug. 30.

FEMA Community Relations External Liaison Jacqueline McBride said teams are going door-to-door and meeting with leaders in an effort to inform the public of the assistance and recovery process. In an effort to answer flood relief questions, FEMA is opening a disaster recovery center Sept. 6 in the first floor offices of the Pioneer parking deck, across from Coronado Theatre. The center, in which SBA officials will also be available, will be open Mondays through Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mark Askey, director of FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, stressed registering with FEMA is of paramount importance to receive disaster assistance. To apply, disaster victims are asked to call 1-800-621-3362, or visit www.fema.gov to register online.

Eligible homeowners could receive up to $28,200 per household for repairs and replacement of damaged property. Askey was quick to point out FEMA’s “assistance” is only that.

“FEMA does not make people whole again,” Askey explained. “We have an ability help people get back on the road to recovery. We cannot duplicate the benefits that are provided by insurance, but we are here to help people recover from the disaster.

“Regardless of what you’ve done to register with the state, or with any other agencies in your community, you have to register with FEMA in order to be eligible for this assistance,” Askey noted.

According to Askey, more than 180 households had already registered as of Sept. 4, with hundreds more expected during the two-month registration period. To be eligible for federal aid, flood victims have until Oct. 29 to register.

The SBA’s home loan program offers low-interest financing of up to $200,000 per home and up to $40,000 for other property. Businesses can borrow up to $1.5 million. Those registering with FEMA will be sent an SBA loan application.

Greg Dawson, public information officer for the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance, indicated the SBA loan application must be completed to be eligible for FEMA dollars.

Although not a necessary step in the FEMA progression, Rockford Human Services Director George Davis still urged citizens to register with his department to be eligible for other forms of aid.

Committee reports passed

Aldermen approved a bid from Jefferson Fire and Safety, of Middleton, Wis., in the amount of $647,191 to purchase a new aerial ladder truck for the Rockford Fire Department.

Six bids for various waterworks supplies and materials were also supported by the council. American AVK, of Fresno, Calif., was awarded $18,988.34. Columbia Pipe & Supply, of Rockford, was approved to receive $24,711.84. J&R Supply, of East Dubuque, was awarded a $114,943 bid. Lake Barrington-based Joseph D. Foreman & Company’s $9,471.74 bid also met with approval. DeKalb-based Northern Water Works Supply will be paid $29,778.66. Mid American Water of Wauconda’s $52,136.78 bid was also accepted. The project is funded by the Water Division operating budgets.

A report authorizing city staff to enter into an agreement with a federally certified land appraiser for the targeted acquisition of flooded homes in Churchill Park and other areas was passed. The city is willing to pay up to $20,000 for the appraisals. No appraiser has yet been chosen.

Aldermen also voted to authorize staff to negotiate with an engineering firm for the completion of a hazard mitigation project. The contract is not to exceed $30,000.

A committee report recommending approval of tax increment financing (TIF) funding in the amount of $30,429 per year for Kaney Aviation Properties, LLC, was also passed. Kaney will receive the TIF funds for six-and-a-half years, for a total of $200,000, toward the renovation of a shopping center at 308-320 N. Alpine Road.

Resolutions adopted

Aldermen authorized the use of Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds for overhead utility relocation along Kishwaukee Street in the amount of $200,000.

$500,000 in MFT funds was approved for landscaping and lighting on Harrison Avenue between 20th Street and Mulford Road.

Public participation

Rockford resident John Weaver praised the leadership of Ald. Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7) for directing traffic at a recent CeaseFire peace rally.

“She wasn’t there to take center stage, nor for any credit,” Weaver noted. “She was there because it was her ward, and those were her people.”

Weaver urged other city leaders to follow suit for the sake of the community.

“The survivors who gathered become victims themselves; victims of fear, victims of frustration and victims of uncertainty,” Weaver said about ongoing violence in Rockford. “If the amount of violence seems bad on the streets now, what will we do when CeaseFire is no longer out there picking up the pieces of a shattered neighborhood? Someone please tell the governor that trying to save lives and stop killings is not a pork project.”

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) recently cut a $250,000 line item for Rockford CeaseFire from the state budget.


Mayor Morrissey, who was celebrating his 38th birthday, proclaimed September Pain Awareness Month in Rockford, urging the public to recognize and educate themselves about the importance of treatment of chronic pain.

from the Sept. 5-11, 2007, issue

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