McHENRY – For the first time in her life, Pauline Applegate was excited to mow her lawn.
On Monday the McHenry resident was able to cut her grass for the first time since April's heavy rains flooded her backyard. A total of 5,000 sandbags—stacked eight high — circled her home, preventing a 4-foot-high wall of water from entering the house.
Applegate is one of hundreds of McHenry County residents eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, after President Barack Obama approved Friday Gov. Pat Quinn's request for the aid.
“It's dramatically important,” Applegate said regarding the FEMA aid. “Being a single mother on a budget, coming up with that money at the last minute is not something I want to do.”
Applegate spent approximately $1,200 on five pumps, pipes, extension cords and other supplies to avoid losing her home to the record flood.
“I don't think people realized how bad it was back here,” she said. “Thank God I had friends and family.”
McHenry County residents affected by the flood can go to www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA to register for disaster assistance.
Residents who register should expect a call back from FEMA within a few days, who will then arrange a visit to the damaged property, said Adam Lehmann, assistant to the McHenry County administrator.
Those who receive FEMA assistance will receive a federal government check or will have funds deposited into their bank accounts.
Approximately 800 McHenry County properties had water touching the building, and more than 200 businesses and residents are likely eligible for FEMA aid, Lehmann said.
Residents can find more disaster information at www.co.mchenry.il.us.
“We are glad to see the aid available to country residents,” Lehmann said. “We encourage people to save their receipts, check the flood recovery center online, and be aware of health and safety information.”
It took a week and a half for the water to recede at Applegate's home, which still has roughly 3,000 sandbags remaining on the property. And Applegate said there was a visible gray film on her grass after the water level fell, which she believes was likely sewage.
But Applegate is just happy her house was saved, and her lawn was mowed.
“I'm glad it's over,” she said. “It was a nightmare.”