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Flood victims hope for state, federal aid

Monday, August 09, 2010

Flooded-out homeowners in the western suburbs got a chance Monday to show federal officials the damage they suffered.

Members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) started going door to door to assess the mess. It's a key step in getting help.

FEMA officials visited one of Elmhurst's hardest hit areas to document the scope of the flooding.

The Elmhurst City Council met Monday night with residents to determine what caused hundreds of homes in town to flood, causing millions of dollars in damage.

"North Avenue was flooded. Eighty-three was flooded. Two-ninety was flooded. Our underpass was flooded. So this flooding affected everyone," said Darlene Heslop, Elmhurst resident.

"This is going to take federal authority to really bring revenue and funds that are well needed for our constituents and our infrastructure. So we plead to them for help," said Pete DiCianni Elmhurst Mayor, Elmhurst resident.

Damage is more widespread in other west suburban towns like Cicero and Westchester where residents met with officials Monday afternoon. They toured numerous homes as well.

Westchester resident Linda Behrendt's house is uninhabitable. The family had to move out while they figure out how to make it livable again. It is going to be expensive.

"We don't know what we could do. We're looking at our budget of how much money we got from our flood insurance to see what we could use. We don't know what to do," said Behrendt.

"The insurance I do have, if it does come through like it should, it's not going to cover all of that because we have lived here 30 years," said Bruce Sirus, flood victim.

FEMA crews looked at Sirus' home which suffered $100,000 worth of damage. They were not out to write checks, just to take notes and pass the information along to the governor and president. But they said it is the start of the process.

"We are not making a determination here. It is not up to me or any of the people on the team. As we say, that's above my pay grade," said Gene Romano, FEMA spokesperson

Governor Pat Quinn is expected to visit the area later this week. He will be determining whether it is eligible for any state assistance. The mayor is hoping that the feds will come through with money as well. For that to happen, President Obama has to approve the aid.

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