Washington rebuilds, nearly two years after tornado

Aug 12, 2015

US Sen. Dick Durbin spoke to Washington Estates resident Bill Porterfield, who has lived in the subdivision since 1971. The neighborhood was leveled after the 2013 tornado. Many residents have returned to their lots but into new homes. Porterfield says he misses the large maple and crab apple trees that used to shade his street.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

US Senator Dick Durbin today toured one of the subdivisions in Washington that was mostly leveled in the November 17, 2013 Tornado.

The rebuilding of Washington Estates is mostly complete. When Durbin stepped out of the car his first words were: “what a comeback.”

“To think, what it was then and what it is now, is quite an indication of community strength, community pride and determination in our part of the world,” Durbin said.

Durbin walked the same section of Washington Estates day five after the tornado hit. 1,100 homes were affected by the EF tornado. Nearly 60 percent more a complete loss. By comparison, 15 properties destroyed in the storm remain in limbo.

Washington Mayor Gary Manier says the disaster cost to the city is nearly a quarter of a million dollars. The expense will come from the city’s general reserve funds.

FEMA worked with individuals and families to cover expenses for the uninsured. But Durbin says the federal agency didn’t provide support to the city because the population formula for funding is too broad and hurts communities downstate:

“Because there’s so many people living in the Chicago metropolitan area, and the federal government has an unfair, if not stupid, formula that says 'if your state has a lot of people, then your state has a lot of money, therefore you don’t need federal help,'" Durbin said. 

Illinois’s senior senator says he’s working on a bipartisan plan to change this formula.