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‘Everything I have, it’s gone’: Cleanup begins as flood waters recede

ROUND LAKE PARK, Ill. -- As the flood water begins to recede in some places, it’s revealing a big mess that will linger for days, as homeowners in low-lying areas of Round Lake start to throw out water-logged furniture and possessions.

A full five days after the storms that brought so much rain, parts of Round Lake are still submerged in floodwater. In front of house after house sit piles of trash that were once people’s most treasured possessions.

“With the exception of my children, who thank god weren’t here that night - they were with their mom - this is my life," Scott Michaels said. "Everything I have, it’s gone.”

Almost everything in Michaels' boyhood home was damaged in waist-deep floodwater, washing away a lifetime of memories.

"We’ve been in this house my whole life, moved here when I was a baby," he said. "Everything I have is in this house.”

With the help of family and friends, Michaels is beginning the clean up.

“We couldn’t even get into the house until yesterday, the water was still too deep until Saturday for us to even get in to do anything,” Michaels said.

His is one of several homes damaged in the major flooding across the region this week. The low-lying area is just beyond Murphy School in Round Lake, which will be closed because  so much standing water remains.

Among those offering help is the Red Cross, which operates shelters, and offers clothes, food and supplies to flood victims. The Red Cross' Chris Doing is in town surveying the damage.

“A flood is kind of a long-term, slow motion disaster,” Doing said.

“It’s truly heartbreaking, up and down the street – this area is kind of a high spot, but in the low areas you see folks bringing everything out of their basements and lower floors, there’s a lot of damage,” he said.

That’s short-term help, but for people like Michaels - who may have lost his home - the bigger concern is what will happen going forward.

"Honestly at this point, I have no idea what we’re going to do. Just getting by day-to-day, and seeing where we’re going to go from there," he said.

In the beginning stages of the clean-up, families are now facing mountains of paperwork as they wait for word as to what kind of disaster assistance they’ll receive from the federal government.

Michaels has also created a GoFundMe Page as the family begins to rebuild.