Is Glenn Beck Right? Did Washington, IL Residents Really Turn Away FEMA?
Is Glenn Beck Right? Did Washington, IL Residents Really Turn Away FEMA?

Glenn Beck says that three employees of his Mercury One charity witnessed people telling FEMA personnel to turn their trucks around and leave Washington in Illinois, which was recently hit hard by an EF-4 tornado.

“We have three Mercury employees that witnessed it,” Beck said. “FEMA trucks come rolling down the road … they come into one of these church parking lots, and the church and the people meet them at the parking lot and say, ‘Turn your trucks around. We don’t want you here.’”

Did FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) really get turned away just like that?

It doesn’t appear so.

FEMA workers began fanning out across Illinois on Thursday, including in Washington, Gifford, and Brookport, Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken said.

As Monken walked through one neighborhood in Washington, he said it’s safe to say thousands of tons of what used to be homes will eventually be hauled away.

“Looking all around me, the debris mission is going to go on for a very, very long time,” he said.

(AP Photo/Journal Star,  Ron Johnson)

Pictures show FEMA and other emergency workers surveying damage in Washington.

It appears that in this case FEMA is focusing on assessing damage and working with local and state officials to determine which damage category homes should fall under: “destroyed, uninhabitable without major repairs, uninhabitable without minor repairs and affected,” reported the Peoria Journal Star.

There has been no indication by FEMA that it would be offering aid to residents of the impacted towns and cities. On social media, the agency is encouraging people to donate to trusted nonprofits such as the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, and Habitat for Humanity International.

Beck, a well-known alternative news commentator, cites only his employees as seeing FEMA trucks turned away. 

He referred back to the “American spirit” that existed in the 1920s.

“When the trucks came [then], the people actually met those trucks in the streets with guns and said, ‘Turn your federal trucks around. We don’t need you here, we don’t want you here. We are a community that takes care of ourselves,’” Beck said. “And they actually turned the trucks around and sent them back home to Washington.”

He started his charity Mercury One to re-start that spirit, he said, and the charity is championed in the article on the Blaze, a news company that Beck owns and heads.

He called the people turning away FEMA help “success.”

No other news reports have been made on the situation, and if the trucks were turned away, then not all FEMA workers were turned away, as the pictures and news stories show.

People commenting on the Blaze article that live in the Washington area disputed the account.

“Actually this is false,” said one. “I’m from Washington. My entire family still lives there. I have family right off of Devonshire Estates. FEMA arrived Thursday and is currently assessing the damage.”

Another said: 

“My home is barely one mile from the most significantly damaged part of Pekin. I can assure you that these morons did not consult with me before they decided to turn away aid that was paid for with my tax dollars. And I give away not an insignificant number of tax dollars in a year, believe me. That’s what’s so baffling about the entire thing. What these guys did is akin to having a car accident, then when the insurance check comes in, ripping it up and sending it back to the insurer with a xeroxed copy of my ass captioned ‘PISS OFF I GOT THIS.'”

  • FrumpyDoo

    Glenn Beck says a lot of things that sound strange at first. For example the other day he said that Thomas Jefferson was really a Mormon and that David Barton has three signed documents from 1807 that prove it.

  • Gordy Lynn

    Beck is a (s)(o)rry excuse for a human (b)eing. This is my hometown. Washington needs help and FEMA is help from all of us to those of us in need. It is just like Beck to use a human tragedy to promote his ilk. Leave my hometown out of your political agenda Beck. Just go to h___.

    • janet


    • Jordan Applegren

      Mine too! SHAME on Beck for using our community to make political points. SHAMEFUL.

  • Patrick B

    fema is a joke. they cut dinky checks 6-12 months after the flood earlier this year in northern illinois. It was all local volunteer work that got the job done. The checks only came after you spent your own money on repairs anyway. And it does not cover much

  • Jordan Applegren

    Eat a —- Beck.

  • travis bronson

    Beck is a liar. I was working in Washington from the night after the tornado for a week straight. FEMA has been on the ground assessing and assisting. I have not see “Mercury 1” ANYWHERE in the area. This man is a crackpot.

  • judi829

    Okay, obviously, Glenn Beck’s people didn’t KNOW what they were seeing, and Glenn has blown it out of proportion. FEMA most likely arrived where the MARC had been, was directed to the United Methodist Church, and automatically went to the big one across town. They were in fact present at the MARC at our church, Washington Evangelical UMC, on Saturday, and expected on Friday. Noone was open for “business” with the MARC on Thursday.

    So, I guess my question for Glenn is, why did you ASSUME that only the biggest church in town was doing anything? Because you, too, have fallen for bigger is better, I fear. Every church in Washington has served in some way, and in many ways, Crossroads has taken the heat – the brunt of publicity – and allowed us to get on with doing what needed to be done.

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