Storms damaged about 2,500 homes in Missouri, Illinois

Saturday, March 18, 2006

State and federal crews have found about 1,500 damaged or destroyed homes in Missouri and about 1,000 in Illinois as a result of storms that tore through both states last weekend.

The storms, which produced dozens of tornadoes across the two states, killed nine people while injuring 100 in Missouri.

Since Monday, damage reports have risen as Missouri state and federal emergency management officials have been able to survey the mostly rural areas affected by the storms. Through Friday, the State Emergency Management Agency reported that 391 homes had been destroyed and 1,100 damaged.

Christian County in southwest Missouri suffered the most damage, with 127 homes destroyed and an additional 138 damaged. The highest death toll was in Randolph County, where four people died, 16 homes were destroyed and 34 homes were damaged.

According to the Association of Missouri Rural Electric Cooperatives, power had been restored to its customers.

Emergency officials do not yet know how much the statewide damage will cost to repair.

On Thursday, federal officials declared nine counties federal disaster areas, which allows homeowners to get federal assistance in rebuilding and receive disaster unemployment benefits.

Friday, Gov. Matt Blunt requested federal aid for residents in additional 23 counties.

Individuals or business owners must contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get any available federal assistance at www.fema. gov or (800) 621-FEMA.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday asked President Bush to declare six counties federal disaster areas after the severe weather damaged about 1,000 homes last weekend.

The declaration would make aid available to people and businesses in Randolph County in Southern Illinois and five counties in the central part of the state.

The six, plus Ford County, already have been declared state disaster areas.

About 80 businesses had major damage caused by the storms and another 160 withstood some minor damage, the governor's office said.

Some of the most severe damage occurred in Springfield, Ill., where tornadoes swept through the city Sunday night and were followed by severe thunderstorms.

Blagojevich requested the federal disaster declaration after officials toured the counties this week and documented the damage to homes, businesses and other property.

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