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Severe April Storms and Flooding in Chicago area

After wreaking havoc on the morning commute, closing schools and prompting scattered evacuations, the massive storm that dumped upwards of a half-foot of rain on parts of the Chicago area overnight is expected to continue throughout the day, with flooding the big concern.

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Frustration boiled over in West Pullman and across the Chicagoland area.   A 1PM deadline this afternoon left Illinois aid workers scrambling to process huge numbers of applications for food aid.  Storms in April created record floods in communities across Chicago, adversely impacting nearly 40,000 households that are still struggling to recover.

“This is a mess.  It’s not organized,” complained Chloe Nelson of Chicago, when it comes to long lines in West Pullman.  “People are cutting in front of other people.  And the lines are all messed up.”  The new funds, released through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP for short, are issued by the Federal government.  But it falls to the Illinois Department of Human Services to disperse the money.  And there was simply no way Human Services could get to all the people before the 1PM deadline.

Across the Chicagoland area, in offices across Cook, Lake and DuPage County, it was a similar picture.  At sunrise, WGN’s Skycam 9 captured pictures of lines stretching for blocks.   From Gurnee to Wheaton to Stickney and the far South Side of Chicago, few communities were spared.  And for many, the process of getting federal aid money has been frustrating, to say the very least.

In West Pullman, with the 1PM deadline come and gone, applicants won a reprieve when state officials made a decision.  To help those standing still standing in line, state workers issue cards to those still outside – telling them to come back next week.

“Those who are in line now will be serviced,” vowed Lavonne Banks with the Illinois Department  of Human Services.  “These folks in line are receiving a card that’ll allow them to return Monday or in some cases, Tuesday.”

But with the ordeal of standing in line for 24 hours, in the summer heat, many say there has to be a better way of dispersing these badly needed funds.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened a temporary registration office in the Douglas Park neighborhood.

It is located in the 28th Ward office at 2602 West 16th Street.

FEMA staff will meet with residents affected by flooding in the Chicago area last April and May to answer questions and help them register for FEMA assistance.

FEMA staff will be available in the 28th Ward office from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Anyone with questions can also contact the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362, or register online at

A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) operated jointly by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now open at in Des Plaines.

Cook County residents affected by recent flooding can go the DRC to meet face-to-face with disaster recovery specialists.

The center is located at 1486 Miner Street in Des Plaines, next door to the Des Plaines Theatre.  It will operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

It is not necessary to visit in person to register with FEMA.  People can register online at the FEMA website,, or call 1-800-621-3362.

Governor Pat Quinn is asking for additional federal aid for victims of last month’s floods.
Quinn asked the government to add an additional 16 counties to a recent federal disaster declaration that covered 11 counties.
The change would allow for home and business owners in those counties to qualify  for grants and loans to cover the costs of their flood losses.

The additional counties are Bureau, Crawford, Henderson, Knox, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford.

On May 10, President Obama declared Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, McHenry and Will, federal disaster areas triggering the release of federal funds to help individuals and businesses recover from severe storms and flooding that began on April 18, 2013.
So far more than 16-thousand applications for assistance have been submitted  for disaster aid.

The Des Plaines Police Dept have released the recordings from chilling 911 calls during last month’s flooding.

Stranded motorists who suddenly found themselves in quickly rising waters phoned for help.

The recordings capture the tense moments in which drivers weren’t sure if they’d live or die and 911 operators responded.

WGN’s Tom Negovan has the details on the calls.

One month after heavy rains flooded many parts of the Chicago area residents are still cleaning up.

FEMA officials set up a temporary office at the Lisle Police Department Thursday to help homeowners apply for federal assistance.

9,000 homes and businesses in Dupage County were affected by the flooding.  11 counties in Illinois were declared disaster areas.

The federal government is providing grants and low interest loans to help cover some of the uninsured costs.

Residents can get help from FEMA representatives daily from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Lisle Police Department.

The temporary disaster recover center will be open until further notice.

Residents also can register directly with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or visiting the website.

The toll-free telephone number will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily until further notice.

Weeks after heavy rains hit Illinois, flooding problems continue to plague areas southwest of Chicago.

More than 200 families are still displaced in Marseilles and clean-up is still in its infancy.

Senator Dick Durbin toured the flooded areas in and around Marseilles and the Illinois River. He looked over the damaged homes and the work that’s being done to repair the dam which was hit by seven barges back in mid-April during that historic flooding.

Victims are hoping to get some help with flood clean up — and more importantly to many — answers about the futures of their homes and properties.

On April 18,  the seven barges slammed into the dam in the midst of strong currents during that massive storm.

Some 1,500 people were evacuated just a short while beforehand as the water level neared historic highs.

Many residents say when the barges hit the dam.  It worsened the already growing flood problem, pushing feet of water into many homes.

Those living along the water say they are now being told the Army Corp of Engineers will be taking over part of their land – the easement along the water – to shore up the levee.

FEMA was in the area over weekend, assessing the damage.

Starting Saturday, the Marseilles navigation pool will be lowered about 4 feet so crews can continue working on the dike.

At that point, no pleasure boats will be allowed in that part of the river.

That could last anywhere from 3 to 5 days.

You could get some tax relief if your property in Cook County flooded.

You may qualify for property assessment reductions.

The assessor’s office says it will send teams to document the damage, to see if property tax bills can be lowered.

FEMA and state agencies are now handling preliminary damage assessments in Cook, DuPage, and Lake Counties.

That could lead to federal grants and low interest loans for property owners.

More than a week after heavy flooding, residents of the Fox Point Mobile Home Park in Wheeling are finally back in their homes. But some residents still do not have electricity and none has gas service.

A small group of Fox Point residents came to the Wheeling Village Hall this morning and set up an appointment for tomorrow to see the Village Manager.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also plans a visit tomorrow.

Many residents are back in the mobile home park, but at their own risk.  Facing one roadblock after another, some fear that the village is attempting to push them out.

Families that live in 40 mobile homes at Fox Point evacuated more than a week ago.  Many stayed at a park district rec center.  That shelter is now closed.

Village officials say utility boxes were under water, and after the water receded they discovered electrical wiring problems.  Without sewer service the homes were deemed uninhabitable.

Village Manager Jon Sfondilis says the village is not trying to get rid of the mobile home park.

Still, some residents question whether safety is the reason.  They say they have never had to jump through so many hoops in past floods, and they want an independent expert to check their homes.

The owner of the mobile home park, Larry Fisher, told WGN by phone that all matters are settled and that each homeowner needs to make arrangements with Nicor to get their gas service turned back on.

FEMA plans to do site surveys in Des Plaines and then come to Wheeling tomorrow.

Local News

Flood victims protesting to return home

Some flood victims will be protesting Monday morning, because they’re being kept away from their homes.

Fox Point holds 40 mobile homes, next to the Des Plaines River, in Wheeling.

The residents had to evacuate, after the river flooded.

The water has since receded, and a temporary shelter closed on Saturday.

But the village is still keeping the residents out of Fox Point, because inspectors found electrical wiring issues in some of the homes.

All of the homes were then declared uninhabitable because they had no sewer service because there was no power.

Residents spent the weekend with picket signs made of cardboard expressing that they had no food, water, or a place to go.

Wheeling says its letting ComEd restore power to the homes that have proper wiring.