Free birth certificates offered to flood victims

June 20, 2008
Press Release
Vital Records

Cook County Clerk David Orr announced today that flood victims in Iowa and towns along the swollen Mississippi River who were born in Cook County can receive free copies of their birth certificates.

“Offering this simple service is the least we can do to help the thousands of Midwesterners impacted by the ravaging floodwaters,” Orr said. “When they begin to rebuild their lives, we’ll make it as convenient as possible to obtain this essential document.”

A birth certificate is needed to obtain a driver’s license, marriage license, passport or identification card. Birth certificates can also be required during travel, when registering children for school or sports teams, when starting a new job or switching health insurance, and when applying to receive social security, veteran or other benefits.

Birth certificates typically cost $15, but the fee will be waived for flood victims. The Clerk’s office filled more than 200 requests when the same courtesy was extended after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Flood victims must produce a referral from the Red Cross or a letter from FEMA to qualify for the free vital record.

With entire towns submerged and evacuated across three states, the widespread devastation is heart-wrenching, Orr said. More than 33,000 applications for disaster assistance have already been filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to media reports.