Tornado-ravaged town denied federal aid

By Anthony Antoine |

Published 01/12 2014 10:22PM

Updated 01/13 2014 11:27AM

GIFFORD -- Residents react to being turned down for federal aid from FEMA. November 17 is a day people here won't forget. A tornado destroyed their hometown.

Dottie Downs says, "My house wasn’t damaged much, but so many people lost so much here and need the help."

Everyone did his or her part to help out, but FEMA would play the biggest role as the town looked to rebuild.

"If we can send so much money across the waters to the foreign countries every time they have a disaster, we can surely take care of what we need over here in this country," says Downs.

Governor Quinn applied for a federal grant through FEMA, but Illinois didn't qualify. According to FEMA's standards the state didn't have enough damage. Nine counties asked for $6.1 million but FEMA's minimum for Illinois is $17.8.

Maynard Duitsman is the treasurer of Gifford. He says, "It's sort of a low blow to a small community like ourselves. We don’t have enough people here to qualify for it, but we were hoping that Governor Quinn and his staff can convince the President to declare this as a disaster area. We definitely need all the financial help that we can get."

Downs says, "We got to get a new water tower. We’ve got a lot of stuff that’s got to be removed. I’m hoping and praying."

As of now, the town will have to find the money somewhere else.

In the meantime, Duitsman says, "We're a religious community and God will help us. I know he will."

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