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State, Feds Begin Flood Damage Assessments To Pave Way For Disaster Relief

Rescue crews use inflatable boats to evacuate Albany Park neighborhood residents from their homes on April 19, 2013, after heavy flooding in the area from a deluge of rain. (Credit: CBS)

Rescue crews use inflatable boats to evacuate Albany Park neighborhood residents from their homes on April 19, 2013, after heavy flooding in the area from a deluge of rain. (Credit: CBS)

Roseanne Tellez Roseanne Tellez
Roseanne Tellez is the co-anchor of CBS 2 Chicago′s midday News at...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Help is on the way. That was the message Monday from Gov. Pat Quinn to flood victims in the Chicago area.

Damage assessments began in hard-hit areas, like the Albany Park neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side; it was a first step to getting federal disaster relief funds to help pay for cleanup and repairs.

The water was so bad in the Albany Park neighborhood that some residents had to be rescued from their homes after taking on several feet of water in their basements – in some cases up to the ground floor.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports the governor promised government help with recovery efforts.

The water might be gone, but the problems for homeowners were still weighing heavy, a week-and-a-half after the floods.

Many homeowners said it’s about time they started seeing action on getting them some help to pay their mounting bills from flood damage.

When more than three feet of water flooded Kevin Krstovich’s basement in Albany Park, his appliances were left waterlogged, and many of his belongings ended up in the trash.

He was eager to show damage assessment teams just how much he lost in the flood, and was told to save all his receipts from flood-related expenses.

Krstovich said this wasn’t his first flood, and he said the response was better during floods in 2008.

“The day after the flood, people were here from FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], we had crews from both the city and the Salvation Army helping people clean out their basements,” he said. “This year, so far, I mean the person I just talked to is the first person I talked to from FEMA. This is, what, 10 days later?”

With the exception of water rescues, residents in Albany Park were on their own.

Assessment teams, including workers from the FEMA, the Illinois Emergency Managment Agency, and the U.S. Small Business administration got similar accounts from other residents.

Quinn said, “We’ve never had, in our whole state of Illinois, in our history since 1818, such a pervasive flood in so many different parts of Illinois.”

The governor said residents hit by flooding could be eligible for grants of up to $31,500 to help pay for damage.

Krstovich said he’s hopeful, but believes the whole mess could have been prevented, if the city had prepared.

“They were saying, “Oh, we’re going to have Jersey walls, we’re going to have sandbags, we’re going to have this, we’re going to have that.’ We got nothing. The Jersey walls must have stayed in Jersey, because they never made it here,” he said. Jersey walls are the modular concrete barriers typically used to separate lanes of traffic, or provide security barriers around sensitive locations.

Quinn has declared 48 counties state disaster areas, including Adams, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Clark, Cook, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lawrence, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago and Woodford counties.

Declaring specific counties disaster areas will be key in obtaining federal assistance in paying for repairs and cleanup.