Flooded Suburbs Look for Federal Bailout

Federal aide process could take almost two weeks

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Monday, Aug 2, 2010  |  Updated 5:00 PM CDT
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PHOTOS: Summer of Storms

Storms Leave Disastrous Damage |
Severe storms that tore across Illinois left 150,000 people without power. 11 counties were declared a disaster area and several towns were left with millions of dollars in property damage.

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The drywall in Tracy Fleischer’s Elmhurst home only goes halfway to the floor. The rest was cut off after water rose more than a foot high on the first floor. Now her kitchen, living room, bathroom and children’s playroom must all be rebuilt.

“Basically our entire first floor is gone,” she tells U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, who is touring some of the damage that remains in the wake of last month’s flooding.

Durbin met today with the mayors of nine of the hardest hit suburbs and emergency management officials. They are trying to expedite the process of applying for federal aid.

"If it looks extensive enough, then we'll get a presidential proclamation," said Andrew Velazquez, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Bellwood is among the municipalities counting on federal aid.

“It’s important that federal money get involved here,” says mayor Frank Pasquale. He says many of his constituents keep coming back to city hall because they have nowhere else to go. “We are feeding them, clothing them,” he says.

Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni says he is looking for money to help the hardest hit of his residents, but he says he would also like funding to address the causes of last month’s flooding to make sure it doesn’t happen again. “We are able fix this infrastructure, I’m hoping” he says, “ but it’s going to cost money.”

Like her neighbors, Tracy and her husband have filed the FEMA paperwork and must now wait through the approval process. That could take ten days or more. For her, the disaster can’t come soon enough.

“We’ll have no kitchen, no laundry room, no bathroom, we’ll have absolutely nothing on our first floor,” she says, “ and that’s just the beginning.”

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