|The Harrisburg, Ill. tornado of 2012 wasn't severe enough to be a federal disaster.|
It may sound so cold to think such a thought. But that seems to be the reality in Harrisburg, a Southern Illinois town of just over 9,200 people.
When a string of tornadoes managed to whisk their way through Missouri and on into Kentucky, Harrisburg was one of the Illinois communities that managed to get hit on Leap Day (a.k.a., Feb. 29).
BECAUSE THERE WASN’T much there to begin with, it didn’t take much for the entire town to be devastated. Plus the fact that everything that happens locally always seems more severe than a major tragedy taking place elsewhere, and you can appreciate how Harrisburg sees their storm of a couple of weeks ago as a major historic event.
They’d like to have the sad saga of tragedy; followed up by the heroic comeback as the people don’t let Mother Nature get them down. They rebuild, possibly to something even more significant than what was there to begin with.
That literally is the tale of Chicago – which could easily have ceased to exist after the great fire of 1871. Instead, it leaped far ahead of other Midwestern towns to become a major world city.
But nothing like that is going to happen in Harrisburg, or surrounding Saline County, Ill. Because in addition to getting walloped by nature, it seems the federal government did a number that will likely keep this town forevermore in the dumps.
BECAUSE IF THEY do choose to rebuild, it’s going to have to be a purely local effort. They’re not about to get much in the way of help from anyone.
Federal officials have ruled that the natural disaster that occurred in Harrisburg wasn’t severe enough to qualify for federal disaster status. There won’t be any federal aid headed for the Southern Illinois community.
A letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to state government said they believe Illinois government is more than capable of providing the finances to help the people of Harrisburg.
“The damage was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments and voluntary agencies,” FEMA officials informed Illinois government.
WHICH MAY BE true on a certain level. There is only so much money to go around, and I’m sure the people of Branson, Mo., will feel relieved that every dollar not being spent in Harrisburg means potentially another dollar that can be spent on rebuilding their community with all those theaters that attract the country music crowd (although for what it’s worth, I have an uncle who lives not far from Branson who claims it’s actually a nice place to visit for a quick show).
But back to Harrisburg, which has been told that even though they had fatalities and there are people who will be left homeless without some assistance to rebuild their residential structures, their suffering just isn’t important enough.
Even though I realize there’s only so much federal money to go around and the devastation may well be worse in Henryville, Ind., or West Liberty, Ky., I’m sure that doesn’t ease the pain of those who suffered within our own state’s boundaries. It certainly didn't make Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., any less disgusted (which was the image I woke up to Monday morning when my television went on to CNN's Headline News and anchor Robin Meade was having her way with the story).
|Just like Allstate?|
I’m sure we’d be equally ticked off if, somehow, a tornado had managed to clip its way through the extensive suburban area – only to find that someone in Washington thought that Chicago officials were wealthy enough to pay for repairs themselves.
IT’S PART OF why we have a federal government to provide these services. Their actions these days reek of the same stench that we sense whenever an insurance company prefers to look for excuses not to pay a claim – rather than providing the services they’re supposed to for all the years of payments the clients made so they’d be protected on that “rainy day.”
The United States of America, behaving like a face-less insurance company – that is a sad moment for all of us, regardless of where we live.