Cook County informed the village of Forest Park on Monday that damage done by Thursday’s floods may be enough to qualify for individual relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Village Administrator Tim Gillian said.

But in order for the village to qualify, forms must be filled out in the next few days.

Forms are available online at as well as Village Hall, Howard Mohr Community Center, Forest Park Public Library, Ed’s Way Grocery Store, and Schauer Hardware.

“It is extremely important that all victims of the recent flood fill out an Individual Assistance form and return it to Village Hall, 517 Desplaines Avenue, by or before Thursday, April 25th by close of business,” a communication from the Village said.

In 2010 and 2011, more than $1 million in FEMA relief was collected by Forest Park residents after flooding in town.

“First the governor, Cook County and the mayor must declare the area a disaster,” Gillian said. “Then FEMA has to make a determination.”

The forms serve two purposes. As well as being a fresh record of individual flood-related expenses and damages, the village aggregates an estimate of the total damage in town.

That number, along with estimates from other municipalities, is presented to the county. If the damage amount meets “a specific dollar threshold,” then FEMA declares the area a disaster area.

At that point, Forest Parkers can make a claim against the total amount of FEMA relief aid available countywide, as funds become available, Gillian said.

Gillian himself collected a FEMA payout after the last flooding episodes in 2010 and 2011, he said.

“Once they make the determination [that Forest Parkers are eligible for aid] it moves pretty fast,” Gillian said.

In his experience, “They were out taking photographs in about three weeks,” he said.

While FEMA does not acknowledge basements as living space — and in the past has not paid for remodeling — the government agency has reimbursed costs to replace hot water heaters, washers, dryers and furnaces, Gillian said. The awards can also be used to reimburse costs for cleanup, he added.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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