March 16, 2012
By Erin Meyer
RIDGWAY, IL (WFIE) – An appeal Friday night to the Federal Government to help areas of Illinois hard hit by a tornado two weeks ago.
Earlier this week, Governor Pat Quinn's request for FEMA assistance was turned down.
He's now appealing that decision.
Meanwhile, earlier Friday, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon paid a visit to one of the communities affected by the storm, Ridgway.
It may be a while before all is quiet again in Ridgway, but for now, the sound of bulldozers mean progress.
"There's a lot of rebuilding that will go on here," Simon said.
Simon saw some of that rebuilding this morning, while touring the town with Mayor Rebecca Mitchell.
"It's sad, it's really sad to see the level of destruction, sad to see the number of homes that have tarps as roofs today instead of roofs," Simon said.
Of course, it was more than just homes that felt the tornado's fury.
Simon also visited what's left of St. Joseph's Catholic Church and the True Value Hardware Store.
"Very nice person and seemed very concerned about our situation," said co-owner of the True Value Hardware Store Tom Drone.
Drone and his two brothers own True Value. It was hit hard during the storm.
They're now aiming to reopen sometime next year.
"I feel very fortunate, but I'm sure a lot of the disaster relief would benefit many of the people that lost their home," Drone said.
For that to happen though, the state first has to get disaster relief.
An initial request to FEMA was denied.
"We don't ask for much. We kind of take care of our own down here so I really think that we're disappointed overall, yeah," Drone told 14 News.
After seeing what people in Ridgway are up against, Simon says she passed on her first-hand observations so they could be included in the appeal for FEMA assistance.
"We're doing everything we can because we understand how important that is," Simon noted.
The state of Illinois went through a similar appeals process for FEMA aid in 2008 and was successful.