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Derecho damage assessment continues with aim for federal assistance

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(The Center Square) – It’s been more than a week since a powerful storm hit parts of central Illinois, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people across the state. Power continues to be out for many as cleanup and damage assessment continues.

In Springfield, where 45 years ago an ice storm knocked out power for the city and a tornado did major damage in 2006, Mayor Misty Buscher said last week’s derecho was like nothing they’ve ever experienced.

“It’s a hurricane on land. So have you ever seen people from a hurricane go more than 7 days without power? You have,” Buscher said during an unrelated news conference Friday. “That’s what we had in Springfield. It’s very strange. It had never happened before. And when I had a conference with [the Illinois Emergency Management Agency], they said, ‘mayor, your city was in the eye of the storm.’”

At one point after the storm, nearly 40,000 customers in the city of Springfield were without power. That number has been reduced to a few thousand as restoration continues into the weekend.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said help has been coming from all over and the multi-agency cleanup continues.

“I know that our departments in the state have been helping wherever we’ve been asked to,” Pritzker said. “I know that every effort is being made to bring in people from outside the area to assist in putting power back on.”

In Springfield, the June 29 storm snapped 18 transmission poles and many other distribution poles have downed lines throughout the city of Springfield.

Buscher said the capital city took the brunt of the storm and they continue to assess the damage in hopes for federal assistance.

“So confirmation of all of the totals clearly will take some time because not all the bills are in as they’re accruing as we keep cleaning up and working but there is an earmark, $22.7 million statewide has to be lost in order for [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] to step in,” Buscher told WMAY.

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