State steps up for tornado relief

By Anna Carrera

Published 03/05 2014 05:46PM

Updated 11/12 2014 03:41PM

GIFFORD -- State leaders are taking action after bad news from the federal government. FEMA isn't giving money to any Illinois communities to help rebuild infrastructure after the tornado. This decision has nothing to do with individual claims.

People in Gifford are still collecting money on their own. They set up a special fund after the tornado in November. Since then, they've collected upwards of $690,000 to help families. Money from the state would help the village rebuild.

"Hopefully it's made a difference," said Tony McClain, who is the president of the Gifford State Bank. "That's what the people who sent the money wanted to do."

McClain is also one of the trustees for the community's relief fund. They've given out about $445,000 so far.

"$400,000 over 200 people. Do the math," says McClain. "It's about $2,000 a person. Quite honestly with some of the devastation that many of these people have, $2,000 really wasn't that much, but it was something."

The village was hoping for something from the federal government to help rebuild infrastructure. But after getting denied twice, Governor Pat Quinn says the state will pitch in instead.

"We are the people of Illinois, good and true," said Quinn. "We understand it's important that we all come together in a time of crisis and natural disaster."

$45 million from the state will get divided among communities the tornado hit. Even though it's not known how much Gifford will get, people there say any amount would help.

"If your roads aren't any good, if the village is struggling monetarily, it ultimately goes back on us," said McClain. "So if something can come from the state to offset all those costs, that's going to help considerably."

A Chicago group called the McCormick Foundation plans to donate $100,000 to the relief fund in the next few weeks to help families in Gifford.

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