FEMA hosts urban flooding summit in Chicago as concerns linger ahead of storm season

Some local property owners continue to deal with damage caused by flooding last year

Leah Hope Image
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
FEMA hosts urban flooding summit in Chicago
On a soggy Chicago weather day, FEMA is hosting an urban flooding summit and giving disaster assistance information, as concerns linger.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is hosting an urban flood summit through Wednesday in Chicago, as concerns about flooding continue in the area.

It comes as some local property owners continue to deal with the damage caused by flooding last year.

The convention is for over 100 people Tuesday and Wednesday to look at causes and possible solutions to urban flooding.

"Six- to 9-inch rain events are happening now on a regular basis. When we saw the rain event that took place here in Chicago in July of 2023, that indicated we had a problem," said Tom Sivak, FEMA Region 5 administrator.

The first day of the convention is happening on a soggy Chicago day, when some are bracing for potentially more problems, while still dealing with issues from last summer's July storm that left homes flooded.

"It keeps you nervous, keeps you awake at night, wondering what the next one, what tomorrow might be," flood victim Queen Jackson said.

SEE ALSO: Chicago weather forecast includes snow for Wednesday after stormy start to week

Jackson's basement was flooded last summer, and despite her family helping to clean up, and some money from FEMA, she said she can't afford to get rid of the mold.

"I worked all my life. I never asked for any help on my own, and now comes the time. We need help, and under the circumstances, seem like it's hard getting it," Jackson said.

"There's still mold residue in between the cracks today, even I was trying to do a good mopping job and sweeping job. And you can still see remnants of what happened last year," Jackson's grandson Aaron Barnes said.

Princess Shaw, with the West Side Long Term Recovery Group, said many of the flood victims are seniors. She said they are currently helping 250 homeowners go through the appeal process with FEMA.

RELATED: Flooding in Illinois: Federal disaster proclamation issued for Sept. flash flooding in south suburbs

"You have people where the mold is growing at an alarming rate because we had mild winter. Because of that, the mold really never had a chance to die off or have a slowing down point," Shaw said.

FEMA reports $300 million went to flood victims from the June/July rains in Chicago and Cook County. And FEMA urges residents to appeal if there is still damage.

"We know we can never make a person whole, but get them on the road to recovery. The most important thing we can focus on is that we've been able to get some money into the hands of survivors, to get them on the road to recovery," Sivak said.

With a new season of storms ahead, long-term solutions are welcomed, but helping in short-term is what some are still waiting for.