Forest Park homeowners are starting to see some money hit their bank accounts as the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to dole out grants to partially cover expenses related to the July 23 flooding.
FEMA has dispensed more than $84.6 million to those who experienced flood damage within the seven counties surrounding Chicago, mostly in Cook County, as of Sept. 4. Of the 50,212 applications for aid that have been received by the federal agency since President Barack Obama declared the area a disaster site, so far 34,139 houses have been eyeballed by 443 different inspectors.
The individual figures for Forest Park could not yet be calculated since the numbers are not final, said Chuck Jackson, a field specialist with FEMA.
“We’re not done yet, so the numbers are going to go up,” Jackson said. “Inspectors are continuing to serve the residents. They’re still in the thick of it.”
Marete Steger, a 29-year-old living in the 1300 block of Elgin, said that FEMA deposited $5,000 into her bank account only a few days after an inspector visited her home.
Steger said her partially finished basement was filled with about 24 inches of water after the July 23 flood.
The hot water heater had to be replaced and service was needed on the washer, dryer and furnace. Among the items destroyed were two couches, an entertainment center, a spare bed, two bookshelves and a coffee table.
“We had to rent a dumpster and throw it all away,” she said.
What’s more, “the water pressure was so great under our house that our basement floor rose up and buckled. So we had to get a lot of that fixed for safety purposes,” she said.
Steger and her husband originally had to take out a line of credit on their house to pay for all the needed repairs. The money from FEMA – which covered about one third of their expenses – came as a nice surprise, Steger said.
“We were grateful that we got anything,” she added.
Another Forest Parker, Mary Gosmire, of the 1500 block of Elgin, said that her home was hit with repairs after the June 23 flood, and then went through it all over again after the July flooding. She said she had to get service on her furnace, which had just been replaced in June, and she had to buy a new washing machine, which was also just repaired in June.
For her recent damages, FEMA deposited a $700 check into her account.
“I wasn’t happy, no, because with all the damages that occurred, we should have had a lot more,” Gosmire said. “Basically, he told me that nothing was covered except the appliances.”
Gosmire said there was additional damage to the paint and the walls, and that the new washing machine might not have been figured into the total amount they were awarded.
Her basement was mainly used for storage of her children’s old clothes, books and toys, which she had packed in giant Rubbermaid tubs.
“They flipped in the water and everything got soaked anyway,” Gosmire, 59, said. “Because there was so much water, they were sort of floating. Next thing I know they were on their side or upside down, and water got in there anyway.”
For some of the personal items lost, Gosmire said, “I have no way to put a price on that.”
Any homeowners who are not satisfied with the amount they receive can either go online or call the toll free number for FEMA and make an appeal.
“We would invite anyone who feels that the findings were not favorable to them to call or contact us so that we can look further into it,” Jackson said.