FEMA gives Des Plaines River homeowners option to sell

April 18, 2014 (DES PLAINES, Ill.)

One year ago, the Des Plaines swelled over its banks flooding much of the area, including the home of Matthew and Heather Roppel in Des Plaines.

"Spring is spring. It's when the April rains come and it brings flooded flowers," Roppel said.

"We used to love thunderstorms. Now we don't like them so much anymore. So I want to get back to liking thunderstorms again," Matthew Roppel said.

The Roppels have lived on Big Bend Drive since 1995. After the 2013 flood, they didn't rebuild, and are currently living in apartment with their two daughters. So a $2.7 million FEMA plan and $900,000 Illinois grant to purchase 21 homes that flood in Des Plains is good news for them.

"It looks like a blessing for us," Heather Roppel said.

FEMA approved nearly $2.7 million and Illinois granted nearly $900,000 to purchase the 21 homes that flood. If approved, the homes will be knocked down to create open space. FEMA said in the long run it'll save money.

"How much federal dollars are going to be spent in the future if we don't do anything. And by doing this and spending a little money now, we will get to save all those dollars in the future when it floods again," Duane Castaldi, FEMA mitigation specialist, said.

During the last five years, FEMA has purchased other flood-prone properties in Lake, Cook, DuPage, and Will counties totaling nearly $20 million. The Roppels see it as a new beginning.

"It's a way out," Heather Roppel said. "There's no other way. When we get hit, we get hit bad."

"It's an opportunity to sell the house and be able to move on," Matthew Roppel said.

The FEMA project is voluntary. Because all situations are different, the FEMA spokesperson would not predict whether the houses would be purchased.

The Roppels hope to get the formal offer this summer.

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