Des Plaines residents begin flood clean-up

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The waters of the Des Plaines River are starting to recede and Des Plaines residents are beginning the big job of cleaning up from last week’s flooding.

Last Friday, the city of Des Plaines was evacuating people because the water was so high, and the only way to get around was in a boat.  Since then, the water has gone down significantly.  The Des Plaines River currently stands just below 9 feet, down almost 2 feet from where it crested on Friday.  Flood stage is 5 feet so it still has a way to go.

Today, sump pumps are working overtime in the Big Bend neighborhood.  Five days after heavy rains sent 5 feet of water rushing into the neighborhood, the water is finally starting to recede.  Neighbors are now able to get around without using a boat.

Dieter Schwarz counts himself among the lucky ones because his home only got 4 feet of water, even though it backs up to the Des Plaines River.

Gary Zanta says after his home flooded in 2008, FEMA told him to put in drain tiles and make other repairs.  It paid off.  He only got about 3 inches of water in his basement this time.

But Zanta says FEMA did not keep up its end of the deal.  “I spent $33,000 and they only gave me $1,600,” he tells WGN.

Earlier this year, the city of Des Plaines sent letters to homeowners who have had several losses from flooding over the years to see if they would be interested in applying for a federal grant in which the government would buy their homes and level them.

Zanta said no thank you.  But Kathy Robb, who had to trudge through ankle-high water just to get to her car down the block, says a buyout is not a bad idea.

Des Plaines officials say FEMA is still looking at the housing appraisals and the application process is still moving forward.  There is no word on what this recent flooding will do for the application process.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army is handing out free clean-up kits in areas hard hit by the flooding.  Contact your local city or village hall to get more information abour where to pick up a cleaning kit.

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