Weather Updates

Financial relief available for flood victims

Gov. PQuinn talked with local residents  Chesky Katz (center) Shlomo Deutsch (left) press conference where he launched preliminary flood

Gov. Pat Quinn talked with local residents, Chesky Katz (center) and Shlomo Deutsch (left) at a press conference where he launched preliminary flood damage assessments, which are a key step towards receiving federal recovery aid. Photographed at Eugene Park in Chicago on Monday, April 29, 2013. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: June 1, 2013 6:19AM

In the wake of what Gov. Pat Quinn called the most pervasive flood in Illinois since 1818, county, state and federal officials began the process Monday of trying to reach out to victims of the April floods in need of financial aid.

Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Emergency Management Association and the U.S. Small Business Administration were dispatched to assess flood-damaged homes in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties on Monday, after Quinn sent a letter to FEMA on April 22 requesting assistance.

Data collected during the assessment will be included in a follow-up request by Quinn for federal assistance that, if approved, could provide small-interest loans and federal grants.

Quinn also declared a total of 48 counties state disaster area because of the flooding that began on April 18, including Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will.

The state disaster declaration makes available a range of resources that are supposed to help communities recover from flooding, such as allowing more than 3,600 inmates to either assist with filling sandbags. Quinn, who spoke in front of the once-flooded North Branch of the Chicago River in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, said, “We’ve never had, in our whole state of Illinois in its history since 1818, such a pervasive flood in so many different parts of Illinois.”

“Our duty now is to really assess the damage,” he said.

The last time Illinois qualified for federal assistance for flooding was in 2010. FEMA gave residents and business owners about $320 million by the end of November that year.

Nelson Reyes, 68, of Albany Park, said any funds he gets from FEMA will help toward expenses like the damaged TV in his basement from 6-plus feet of flooding water. But Reyes, who says he’s been through a flooding three times in his 5000 block of North Monticello Avenue, said, “This could have been prevented.”

Reyes said the state didn’t place sandbags in time to keep the Chicago River from flooding.

The maximum amount an individual could receive for uninsured losses is $31,900, in the form of a federal grant that doesn’t need to be repaid.

Meanwhile, in Cook County, taxpayers who sustained flood-related losses are urged to contact the county assessor’s office and apply for assessment reductions.

Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios said outreach teams will be sent to the affected areas to record and document damage, to see if property assessments — a factor used in calculating an owner’s tax bill — can be lowered on damaged homes.

Outreach teams will be sent to the townships of Leyden, Lyons, Maine, Niles, Norwood Park, Proviso, Riverside, Stickney and parts of Jefferson.

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