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McHenry County denied FEMA assistance for June floods

No FEMA money coming; Crystal Lake seeks other avenues to assist victims

Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 1:50 p.m. CDT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Flood victims from the June 26 storm will not be receiving state or federal assistance after McHenry County’s request for Federal Emergency Management Agency money was denied.

During a town hall meeting Tuesday at Crystal Lake City Hall to update residents on recovery efforts, David Christensen, director of emergency management for McHenry County, said there was not enough reported damage to qualify as a disaster area.

The county’s report included 189 homes affected by the flood totaling $1.1 million in damage. That is significantly less than the 940 homes affected by the April floods when the county received FEMA assistance.

“Crystal Lake really fought for its residents but it just wasn’t enough,” Christensen said, noting Cary and McHenry were the only other cities to report damage. “We have to look at other avenues.”

One option for financial assistance could be private funding through a new organization called Community Organizations Active in Disasters. Christensen said the group pulls resources from organizations such as the Red Cross, United Way and Salvation Army, and assistance can come in the form of checks to affected residents or in-kind contributions such as volunteer plumbing work.

Because the county has never used the service, Christensen said he did not know what to expect.

“I hear it can take a very, very long time,” he said. “People think FEMA is a slow process, but it’s actually pretty quick.”

Crystal Lake residents’ suspicions were also confirmed Tuesday when city officials said they were incorrect in previously reporting no pump stations had gone down during the storm that brought 6 inches of rain in a two-hour span.

Victor Ramirez, director of public works, said lift station No. 13, located just west of the end of Crystal Lake Avenue, stopped working at one point during the storm. Residents on North Shore Drive attended the July 16 city council meeting and said they believed a station went down during the storm which led to raw sewage flooding their basements.

“We don’t know why and we don’t know when it happened,” Ramirez said. “I just wish I would have known last Tuesday.”

Ramirez said an investigation is ongoing into why the station failed. He said the city is also conducting manhole testing, smoke testing and water dye testing to find possible problems in the sewage system. He said he hopes to have results by the end of the year.

City Manager Gary Mayerhofer said the city would inform the insurance company of the failed station problems, which could help 10 pending claims filed by residents seeking assistance through the city.

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