First reported 8/20/2010 4:11 p.m.

Home and business owners in Forest Park who lost property or whose buildings were damaged in recent flooding may find relief now that the federal government has declared the village, and other nearby areas, a disaster site. The designation was approved on Aug. 20.

Those making inquiries should register online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Greg Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), announced Aug. 19 “that federal disaster aid has been made available for the State of Illinois to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms and flooding during the period of July 22 to August 7, 2010.”

Mayor Anthony Calderone encouraged all homeowners to contact FEMA as soon as possible to activate the extra resources the agency can provide.

Calderone said at Monday’s village council meeting that a couple of Forest Park residents called FEMA on Friday and had a representative at their doorstep by Sunday.

“It seems as though FEMA is on the ball,” he said. “It’s in their hands now.”

Types of assistance FEMA is offering include the following: rental payments for temporary housing due to homes being unlivable after the flooding; grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance; grants to replace personal property not covered by insurance; unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster; low-interest loans to cover residential losses not covered by insurance; and loans up to $2 million for small businesses damaged by the flooding.

Anybody who has damage ¨C regardless of whether or not a flood damage form was sent to village hall ¨C can fill out a FEMA application.

“All is not lost,” said Tim Gillian, village administrator. “They can still call in and make that claim.” 

Forest Park officials have compiled a three-page primer on what kinds of aid FEMA may be able to provide to local residents, which can be viewed on the village’s Web site at

To address the issue of future flooding problems in Forest Park, Calderone suggested at a recent meeting that the village could set aside a certain amount of money specifically for assisting property owners who may want to install flood control systems for their houses.

“There are steps that a property owner can take that would alleviate sewer backup in the basement,” Calderone told the Review. “This would be just a small way for the village to assist them financially.”

The idea, which is still a work in progress, is based off of similar programs throughout 25 communities that were researched, including River Forest.

“You never know when the next big storm is going to hit,” Calderone said. ¡¡