West Side residents impacted by heavy flooding seek financial help, answers from government

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Monday, July 10, 2023
West Side residents seek financial help, answers after heavy flooding
Residents are seeking help and answers after Chicago flooding damaged their homes. Heavy Chicago rain prompted a Flash Flood Warning last week.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A week after heavy rain and flooding impacted Chicago, homeowners are demanding answers and financial help to clean up.

Chicago's Austin neighborhood was particularly hard hit, and some want Gov. JB Pritzker to declare it a disaster area.

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Lolita Brinson's living room is packed with salvageable items that were in her West Side flooded basement. It has taken an entire week to clean up after non-stop rain resulted in water that reached as high as the third step in the basement stairwell.

"I lost everything in my basement, my son's brand new bedroom set, couches, clothes, shoes, a washer-dryer," Brinson said.

Brinson said she also lost homemade decorations for her 4-year-old daughter's birthday party, and was forced to take time off of work to clean up. She and many other residents are hoping to get some type of disaster relief from the government.

"In the Austin area alone, one in four homes has been impacted by the flood. We cannot be under-counted in this situation," said Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford.

Ford encouraged flood victims to call 3-1-1, so there is a record of how many people are impacted. Alderman Chris Taliaferro, who represents the 29th Ward, has recommended to Mayor Brandon Johnson that the city use some of its rainy day fund to help residents.

"Our rainy day fund is meant for these type of disasters," Taliaferro said.

Meanwhile, some residents have hired a lawyer to investigate whether reversing the flow of the Chicago River last week may have impacted flooding on the West Side. The water department told Taliaferro it did not, but he and others are calling for transparency. They are hoping to get answers through six freedom of information requests.

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"I want to know: Did it have anything to do with it?" Brinson said.

Brinson said it wasn't just standing water in her basement, but sewage as well. As the cleanup continues, she worries about mold making her daughter sick.

Ford said so far, the Illinois Department of Human Services is offering help, but residents must qualify. They have to have children under 18 and have an income below a certain level.