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Naperville still cleaning up after flood

A sign warns thbelongings have been flooded with sewage water as debris from flooded basements lines street along Royal St.

A sign warns that belongings have been flooded with sewage water as debris from flooded basements lines the street along Royal St. George Drive in Naperville's Cress Creek subdivision on Monday, April 22, 2013. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 25, 2013 6:11AM



By Monday morning, a couple of days of sunshine had begun to dry things out. Across Naperville, though, evidence of the havoc wreaked by last week’s torrential rains could be found heaped along the street.

From places with as seemingly ominous names as Edgewater Drive and River Run, to South Sleight Street and Modaff near the downtown area, to zero-elevation neighborhoods on the city’s outskirts, sodden furniture sat at curbs alongside neatly rolled, saturated carpet and padding, and countless black trash bags stuffed with belongings rendered useless by flood water.

In the downtown itself, the yellow tape closing off access to the lower sidewalks along the Riverwalk was among few clues that just three days earlier all of the downtown bridges over the West Branch of the DuPage River had been blocked off, or that anything else had been amiss. At midmorning, a worker behind The Lantern was carrying sandbags away from the receding West Branch and stacking them neatly alongside the building at Washington Street and Chicago Avenue, the waterway no longer an imminent threat.

“Everything seems to be back to normal,” said city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche.

She and city administrators were working Monday morning with officials in DuPage and Will Counties and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, laying plans to enable those affected by the floods to apply for federal assistance. If the region is officially deemed a disaster area, residents and business owners who qualify will be able to receive help covering the costs of recovery, repair and replacement that are not covered by their insurance.

By late afternoon, the city website had a questionnaire available that residents can use to itemize the impact of the flooding — but they need to fill it out soon.

“We have a very short turnaround time for this,” LaCloche said. “Both Will County and DuPage County have asked for our data by Wednesday.”

Those who don’t have access to the internet can pick up paper application forms at Naperville libraries or the Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.

“We’re looking to get the word out to as many residents and businesses as possible,” LaCloche said.

The city’s web address is www.naperville.il.us.

DuPage County responders were gearing down Monday at the county level as well. Only Fawell Dam, just upstream from downtown Naperville, remained in operation by the start of the week.

“The county has followed the Fawell Dam operating plan and gates have been lowered to the appropriate level based on water elevations,” read a news release issued shortly before noon Monday. “Fawell Dam will continue to be monitored throughout the day.”

In some neighborhoods, however, normalcy still appeared some distance away. Homes in the East Highlands neighborhood sat behind heaps of carpeting and furniture left at the curb to be hauled away by garbage crews later in the day.

Residents on River Drive in west Lisle had left mountains of household furnishings and other items hugging the roadside, and more things were spread out in nearly every yard and driveway, trying to catch some of the sun that forecasters again were saying would be scarce come Tuesday.

Longtime River Drive homeowner Francesca Valentine said she and her neighbors spent most of the weekend sorting through possessions fouled with raw sewage that had come into their homes with the storm water.

Making things still worse, someone “stole the neighbors’ grand kids’ bikes!” Valentine said in an email that made clear some her frustration.

A few miles to the west, residents in the Cress Creek area had been salvaging what they could from saturated basements.

“It looks like a war zone with all the plumbers and restoration people,” said John Tarantino, president of the Cress Creek Homeowners Association.

Although his home just east of the beleaguered West Branch had remained dry, many of Tarantino’s neighbors were far less fortunate.

“I would say of approximately 585 homes in Cress Creek, easily 100 of them suffered flooding,” he said.

Inhabitants of the adjacent Cress Creek Commons subdivision had not fared any better. Tarantino estimated nearly one-fourth of the residents in that development saw flood damage.

And it appeared many faced a long wait for help with the cleanup.

“I spoke with a neighbor yesterday who said he was number 300 on a (waiting) list,” Tarantino said.

Many more could face disappointing news from their insurance carriers; it is those people who most stand to benefit from the federal aid being sought by the city.

“I talked to many, many people who have maybe $5,000 or $10,000 in (flood) coverage, but that’s not going to begin to cover the damage left in these basements,” he said.



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