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A Month Later, Many Flood Victims Still Cleaning Up, Making Repairs

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Area around Big Bend Lake and the Des Plaines River in Des Plaines. Still in flood recovery mode one month after the Great Flood of 2013. (Photo by Bernie Tafoya/WBBM)

Area around Big Bend Lake and the Des Plaines River in Des Plaines. Still in flood recovery mode one month after the Great Flood of 2013. (Photo by Bernie Tafoya/WBBM)

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DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) – It has been one month since major flooding overwhelmed much of the Chicago area, but many of the victims are no closer to being able to return to their homes.

In Des Plaines, near Big Bend Lake, the Des Plaines River makes a horseshoe shape around dozens of homes, many of which still have large storage containers on their driveways, and dumpsters and debris at their curbs.

Tom Curtis and his family have lived on Big Bend Drive for 15 years. A month ago, the Des Plaines River overflowed its banks, and water flooded his back yard, filled his basement, and rose to a couple of inches onto his first floor.

“This is the second time around in less than five years and I’m mad,” he said, as he continued to clean his house and dump debris at his curb.

Curtis has taken a leave of absence from his job so he can make his house livable again. He said his family has been squatting in a foreclosed house until then.

“It’s a lot of work and energy and I’m lacking motivation about now,” he said.

Curtis said he’d leave if anyone would even think of buying his house. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent letters to some of the people who live on Big Bend Drive, raising the possibility the homeowners could be bought out at some time in the future so the houses could be razed.

Len Karson had similar damage at his home, but he said he’s planning to stay put.

“It’s a beautiful place to live, except occasionally when it floods,” Karson said.

Karson said he loves hearing woodpeckers; and seeing deer, skunks, rabbits, and all kinds of wildlife.

Manni Subramania said he’s lived on Big Bend Drive for about 30 years. He said the latest flood left three feet of the Des Plaines River in his basement. Still, Subramania said he loves the area where he lives and wants to stay, even though his wife has had enough and wants to move.

The Subramanias lost everything that had been in the basement; including a washer, dryer, sofa, entertainment system and more.

“This time my wife said we’re leaving, but I didn’t tell her, but I don’t want to leave,” Subramania said.

He said the neighborhood is “a nice place, a very quiet place.”

Still, when floodwaters come, the whole basement has to be stripped down, because of damage including “mold, fungi and all kinds of allergens,” Subramania said.

Gladys Babico has had contractors working to repair her house. She said she’s likely to leave.

“If somebody would buy the house, I’m gonna sell it. I’d go somewhere else,” she said.

Babico said the flood has taken a lot out of her, upsetting her and giving her headaches and stress.

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