Damage from Sept. 11 storm that flooded basements on North & NW sides not eligible for federal disaster relief
by BRIAN NADIG
Federal disaster relief will not be coming to homeowners whose basements flooded during the Sept. 11 storm that dropped up to six inches of rain in less than two hours on parts of the North and Northwest sides, including Portage Park, Jefferson Park, Mayfair, Sauganash Park and Forest Glen.
The city Department of Water Management described the rainfall as a 50-to-100-year storm. The average total rainfall in Chicago in September is 3.3 inches.
The department received almost 2,000 calls for water in basements or for water on the street during or after the storm.
“I am sad to hear that the damage did not meet the threshold needed for our community to qualify. I know how devastating, costly and stressful it is to clean, repair and rebuild after a storm like this happens,” Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th) said.
The city Office of Emergency Management and Communications recently sent the following letter to Nugent explaining why the damage from the storm did not qualify for federal disaster relief:
“(The office) worked with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to determine if the Sept. 11th flooding event that affected the city of Chicago met the criteria to apply for disaster assistance through SBA for low-interest loans to cover a portion of uninsured or underinsured losses (for homes and businesses). OEMC, IEMA and SBA spent the week of Oct. 4-7, 2022, surveying the reported damages received from Chicago’s 311 system. The survey team went to 11 neighborhoods on the Northwest and North sides of Chicago. In those neighborhoods they identified nearly 400 addresses with uninsured losses for further assessment.
“The survey showed that the level of damages did not meet the criteria to request an SBA declaration. In order to meet the threshold, the SBA requires at least 25 homes or 25 businesses, or a combination of at least 25 homes, businesses or other eligible institutions, each sustain uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of the estimated fair replacement value or pre-disaster fair market value of the damaged property, whichever is lower.
“The survey revealed that only eight properties met this criterion. Because the SBA threshold was not met, the event is not eligible to apply for an SBA disaster declaration.”
At community meetings, residents have been asking for financial reimbursement from the city for storm damage, but city officials has said that a federal disaster declaration would be needed.
“I wish that I could offer to fix your basement myself. What happens in a large disaster like this is there is a certain threshold that the county would have to hit in damages and when we hit that threshold the city can make a disaster declaration to the state, to IEMA, and that can go to the governor and perhaps to FEMA,” Nugent said at a Sept. 29 virtual community meeting. “I’m hearing from a lot of constituents that they are having trouble feeling whole again after a storm like this.”
“I’ll be honest. Illinois has a robust economy and has a lot of people, and those thresholds are harder to hit than if we were in Mississippi, Louisiana or something like that. But we are working trying to get some sort of assistance to the folks in your community,” Khalil Muhammad of the emergency management office said at the meeting.
Many of the residents at an Oct. 12 in-person meeting hosted by Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) demanded reimbursement from the city.
Alderman Janes Gardiner (45th) hosted a virtual meeting on flooding issues on Oct. 18.