First reported 8/20/10 3:54 p.m.

Home and business owners who lost property or whose buildings were damaged in recent flooding – now that Cook County officially has been declared a disaster area – may apply for assistance by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Greg Fugate announced Aug. 19 “that federal disaster aid has been made available for the State of Illinois to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms and flooding during the period of July 22 to August 7, 2010.”

Types of assistance FEMA is offering include the following: rental payments for temporary housing due to homes being unlivable after the flooding; grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance; grants to replace personal property not covered by insurance; unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster; low-interest loans to cover residential losses not covered by insurance; and loans up to $2 million for small businesses damaged by the flooding.

Brookfield, like the other affected western suburbs, made Cook County data-collection questionnaires available in July to residents and business who suffered flood damage in storms.

According to Keith Sbiral, Brookfield’s assistant village manager, “we got about 125 of those questionnaires back.” The village has no monetary estimate for the damage the village incurred.

“We’ve just updated our Web site with information residents need to register with FEMA,” Sbiral said. “It’s important for people to know that the data-collection questionnaires they may have turned in to the county will not be sufficient to make a FEMA claim. You must file with FEMA to get any federal assistance.”

Brookfield’s Web site is at www.brookfield

In North Riverside, 396 residents returned forms describing their flood losses. Village Administrator Guy Belmonte said none were filed by businesses, though he was aware of some who suffered losses, including a chiropractor.

“His tile floor buckled in the flooding, and he had to rip it out and throw away the rugs.”

Asked about helping residents make FEMA claims, Belmonte said North Riverside was making those forms available at the North Riverside Village Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave., adding, “Any help from the federal government will be greatly appreciated by our residents, I’m sure.”

Belmonte said damage reported in town ranged from “a few inches to five feet” of water in basements, and he was unaware of anyone displaced by the floods.

At Komarek School, the July 24 flood filled a sub-basement with seven feet of water, said Superintendent Neil Pellicci, knocking the main boiler out of commission. The school district will attempt to get some aid from FEMA to help defray the $150,000 cost of a new boiler.

Meanwhile, the boiler manufacturer and the school’s insurance company are arguing over whether the unit needs to be replaced or repaired. With a two-month lead time needed for a new unit, Pellicci would like to have an answer soon.

The building flooded for the third time this summer shortly after water had been pumped out in July. A water main break on school property swamped the lunch room and an elevator shaft and caused an additional $15,000 in damage.

Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera said that the village is in the process of getting disaster aid forms from FEMA and that they will be sent to the 30 households who submitted a damage survey after the July 24 flood. The forms will also be posted on the village’s Web site ( and an e-flash message will be sent out alerting residents to their availability.

Bob Uphues contributed to this report.