Gov. Pat Quinn declared as disaster areas a dozen counties -- including Cook -- after flooding swamped the region.
The declaration clears the way for the state to provide communities with work crews, materials and trucks to help with storm cleanup. The state treasurer's office can reach out to banks which are willing to offer low-interest loans to flooding victims, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Officials are urging residents to stream into local government offices with pictures of their flooding damage and fill out claim forms to push up the flood's total cost to trigger federal help. Then, homeowners could qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency Funds.
"We know that there isn't any amount of money that will make our people whole," said Westchester Mayor Sam Pulia. "They've lost their heirlooms, property and things in the basement. You just have to drive around here. It makes you sick."
Gov. Quinn's announcement came shortly after Cook County President Todd Stroger declared Cook County a disaster area.
"It's important the Cook County supports and assists our local municipalities in this time of need," he said
Twelve suburbs and one township had declared disasters as of Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported: Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview, Cicero, Forest Park, Hillside, Maine Township, Maywood, Melrose Park, Oak Park, River Forest, Stone Park and Westchester.
More than seven inches of rain fell across the area last Friday night, covering expressways, filling viaducts, knocking out power to thousands and blocking Chicago Transit Authority rail lines.