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Damage picture becoming clearer as flooding abates

Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 4:49 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 11:25 p.m. CDT

The floodwaters may be receding, but with it, emergency officials are getting a better idea of the damage April's rains did.

More than 800 homes were affected by last month's flooding, McHenry County Emergency Management Agency Director David Christensen told the McHenry County Board. But only about a quarter of them meet federal criteria for reimbursement should the president declare McHenry County a disaster area.

"Unfortunately, when the water leaves, we, the government, find out just what the water did," Christensen told board members Tuesday.

More than 200 homes in McHenry County sustained minor damage, according to preliminary Federal Emergency Management Agency assessments, compiled based on mailing addresses. Fifty-six of those homes have McHenry mailing addresses, while the second-most, Port Barrington, had 45.

No homes met the criteria for major damage or worse. An assessment by FEMA, which partners with state and local response agencies, is an important early step in seeking federal assistance.

Gov. Pat Quinn has declared a total of 48 counties disaster areas as a result of April's flooding. While that declaration frees up access to state resources, it allows the state to ask for federal assistance should the disaster exceed the state's ability to handle it.

The number of affected homes could change as FEMA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency continue to analyze their assessments, Christensen said.

The County Board on Tuesday unanimously voted to extend the state of emergency declared last month by Chairwoman Tina Hill, R-Woodstock. Board members last month waived all permit fees through year's end related to repairing damage from the flooding.

Preliminary data conclude the Fox River at the McHenry tailwater reached a historic crest of almost 7.5 feet, breaking a 26-year-old record of 7.2 feet.

The National Weather Service predicts that thunderstorms will be likely Thursday, and there is a slight chance of rain Saturday.

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