Gov. declares 7 Ill. counties disaster areas

September 16, 2008 8:46:37 AM PDT
While the fight against floodwaters is continuing across the Chicago area, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has declared seven counties disaster areas. The counties that have been declared disaster areas are Cook, DuPage, DeKalb, Grundy, Kane, LaSalle and Will.

That basically amounts to an application by the state for federal disaster aid and, if approved, would mean low-cost loans or grants to individual home owners.

"What happened over the weekend was in many ways historic. Mother Nature yet again reminded us she is in charge. During times like this, when acts of nature challenge us, it becomes very clear to me that you see the best in people during difficult and challenging times," said Blagojevich.

On Monday, the governor got an aerial tour of the areas flooded by the Des Plaines, Fox and Chicago rivers, which all overflowed their banks over the weekend.

In Cook County alone, an estimated 3,600 people were displaced. The vast majority of them have found temporary housing with relatives or private resources. However, there is a shelter that has been set up at the community center at the Des Plaines Park District. It has about two dozen people in it. It has enough beds that could serve anywhere from 50-100 people.

There was some worry about whether possible federal aid would make it to the Midwest, particularly when there are much more serious weather-related problems in the southwest along the Texas and Gulf Coast.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency said there cannot be an accurate damage estimate until all the floodwaters have receded. So far, public safety officials have given top priority to evacuation and rescue efforts.

"We had a boy swimming in the river this morning. We had to get him out. We had a fellow Sunday that had his two-wheeler bike pumping its way into the river and had to get him out," said Mayor Tony Arredia, Des Plaines.

In Morris, families fled their homes in the middle of the night from rising floodwaters.


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