032614 js 0514cs“We have difficult decisions to make this year. Vital programs like K-12 education, financial aid for college students, and important programs for seniors, people with developmental disabilities and others all face major cuts.

“I was glad to see the governor lay out a strategy to address our problems. We’re all going to have to work together to do what’s best for the people of Illinois this year.”

Category: Latest

Ameren Illinois and One Change are joining forces for an energy-efficiency campaign in the greater Peoria area. The campaign is intended to help Ameren customers aware of simple changes they can make to reduce energy usage and save money on their electric bills.

Representatives from One Change will be distributing a box of six compact flourescent lightbulbs to 25,000 homes in the Peoria area and ask a short three-question survey of the resident's energy-efficiency habits.

For more information, see the flyer below.

(pdfclick here to view the .pdf; right-click and select "Save Target As..." to download)

ameren

Category: Latest

Koehler-tornadoFederal resources provided by disaster declaration (Updated 12/6)

President Obama's decision to declare Tazewell County and other areas affected by last month's tornadoes Federal Disaster Areas qualifies local residents for a variety of grants and low-interest loans. These include:

  • Grants of up to $32,400 for disaster-related needs not covered by insurance, including replacement of property, transportation and medical care.
  • Low-interest loans for homeowners of up to $200,000 to cover uninsured property losses of homes, vehicles, clothing and other personal property. Both homeowners and renters can qualify for low-interest loans of up to $40,000 to replace damaged or destroyed personal property like clothing, furniture, appliances and vehicles.
  • Federal crisis counseling, unemployment assistance and legal aid for issues like income tax, Social Security and veterans benefits.
  • Low-interest loans of up to $2 million for private businesses and not-for-profit organizations to replace or repair damaged real estate, machinery and other business assets.

 

To apply, call 1-800-621-3362, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or visit m.fema.gov from your tablet or smartphone. Be sure to have your Social Security number (and your spouse's if applicable) and private insurance information available. If you want disaster assistance funds sent directly to your bank account, have your account number and routing information available.

You can also visit the Disaster Recovery Center located in East Peoria for one-on-one assistance applying for state, local and federal aid. It is located at Festival of Lights East Peoria Illinois at 2200 E. Washington St. The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.

FEMA job opportunities (Added 12/17/)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has partnered with the Illinois Department of Employment Security to offer temporary, full-time positions related to disaster assistance in the areas devastated by November's tornadoes. These positions are open to local residents and include positions in administration, writing and public information, television/radio broadcast production, planning, individual disaster assistance and logistics.

To apply, visit IllinoisJobLink.com and search for FEMA in the keyword search box. All applicants must be at least 18 years old and possess a high school diploma or GED. Applications are being accepted through December 19.

Food assistance for disaster victims (Added 12/9)

Starting December 11, disaster victims whose unreimbursed storm-related expenses or loss of work due to the storms has reduced their incomes below a certain level may qualify for food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps). Individuals who already qualify for SNAP may be eligible for additional assistance if they meet the program requirements.

For more information, contact the Tazewell County Department of Human Services Family Community Resource Center, located at 200 S. 2nd St., Suite 20. The office phone number is 309-347-4184.

Open burn in East Peoria (Added 12/9)

The city of East Peoria is allowing open burning of tornado-related landscape waste through December 15. Note that burning building and construction materials is not allowed. You must obtain a permit first, and all normal open burning rules apply.

Visit the city's website for more information.

Salvation Army (Added 11/19)

The Salvation Army has been supporting relief efforts by setting up mobile canteens for survivors and rescue workers. To donate to support their efforts, call 800-SAL ARMY, click here or mail a check made payable to "Salvation Army" clearly marked "November Tornado Relief" to 401 NE Adams St., Peoria, IL 61603. You can also text GIVEHEART to 80888 to make an automatic $10 donation.

Illinois Treasurer's Office

The Illinois treasurer's office can provide low-interest disaster recovery loans to residents, business owners and farmers who are waiting on insurance settlements or other aid programs to take effect. (For example, declaring a federal disaster area, which makes residents eligible for a wider variety of loans, can take time.)
The loan must be used to pay the cost of repairs and expenses arising directly from the disaster.

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the treasurer's Disaster Recovery hotline at 866-523-0641.

Illinois Department of Insurance

The Department of Insurance has a handy fact sheet about what you should do and what you should expect from your insurance company when dealing with disaster recovery. Knowing the facts is an important way to avoid missing opportunities. The fact sheet is available here.

As the fact sheet notes, one of the most important parts of the recovery process is selecting a reputable contractor. Con artists known as "storm chasers" often go door-to-door after major storms offering to repair homes. They frequently do a shoddy job or simply steal money or property. For more information about avoiding storm chasers, visit the National Storm Damage Center's website.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Added 11/21)

Disposing of debris and waste can be a major concern after a disaster of this magnitude. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has put together a fact sheet explaining how to dispose of wreckage, complete with phone numbers of experts who can address common concerns. Read it here.

Red Cross (Updated 11/25)

You can donate to the Red Cross' disaster relief fund by clicking here, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 (automatic $10 donation). For more information, call the Central Illinois Chapter of the Red Cross at 309-677-7272.

Category: Latest

koehler1112State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) recently met with the directors of two programs that help Illinois veterans and active duty military families to discuss the good work they do.

Health and Disability Advocates Veterans Programs help veterans and military families find the civilian resources provided by the state and federal governments. Veterans enjoy a wide variety of support programs, but often the application process for these programs can be confusing. HDA demystifies the process. They train state and private agencies to help their staff members understand the full array of programs available to veterans and military families, supplement government-provided benefits for veterans who don't qualify for other programs and provide several resources for the families of soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty.

The National Guard's Child and Youth Program provides special services for the children of active-duty military families and the survivors of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. The program provides schools with resources to help them understand the special problems facing children whose parents are deployed abroad. Program staff also helps families locate child care resources.

"We've established so many programs to help our veterans after they return to civilian life and to help families cope with the difficulties of living with active-duty military members," Koehler said. "Health and Disability Advocates and the National Guard's Child and Youth Program do a great job of helping families navigate government services and providing supplemental programs to support government efforts."

Last year, Koehler worked with these organizations to pass a law requiring schools to allow parents to disclose if they are active-duty military members who are or expect to be deployed.

"Helping our schools identify military family children is the first step in giving the kids the resources they need to overcome the special challenges they face," Koehler said. "Their parents are making a sacrifice to defend us all. The least we can do is make sure their kids have the resources they need to succeed in school."

Category: Latest

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
M113 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

Peoria Office:
400 NE Jefferson, Suite 200
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 677-0120