CALUMET CITY, Ill. (CBS) -- After days of cleaning up and salvaging what they could, help is finally on the way for homeowners in Calumet City.
was hit hard with what some are describing as a 500-year flooding event – and they now have an action plan in place to help those impacted.
The storm system that brought the flooding was a weather event that no municipality could've prepared for, according to officials in Calumet City. The slow-moving storm this past Sunday dumped as much as 9 inches of rain in two hours.
The sewer system was overwhelmed. Streets were flooded, and homeowners were beside themselves - with furniture left floating through rooms. Cars were left in half a foot of water, and neighborhoods were turned into lakes.
The city's fire chief said emergency crews responded to 87 incidents during the floods, cars submerged and flooded basements, and in some cases, they carried victims out of flood waters.
"I mean, we have, you know, flooding in the basements a little bit – but not a river," said Calumet City resident Robin Davis. He and his sister both
Christine Dalsanto lost everything in her basement.
"Everything was just floating around," Dalsanto said. "That's how it all got there."
All this happened with local residents still recovering from major flooding that took over the area in June and July.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has already been to Calumet City since then. Just this week a disaster recovery center opened at the Calumet City Public Library as a place for people to access resources.
"Our residents are hurting," said Calumet City Mayor Thaddeus Jones. "We've never seen anything like this."
Mayor Jones held an emergency Calumet City Council meeting Wednesday, where $1 million in funding was authorized to help impacted residents.
"We can't fight Mother Nature, but we can help our residents in their time of need," Jones said.
Residents are being urged first to go through their homeowner's or renter's insurance.
If their claim is denied, then they should go to the city's website to fill out a residential flood form, which will provide both the city and county with a damage assessment of their impacted homes and businesses.
Applicants could then get approved for up to $9,000.
As the city looks ahead, addressing its aging infrastructure is now a priority - something they were already addressing after severe flooding earlier this summer.
"It's a $10 million plan to identify all the problems, to clean, to televise, and analyze all of our sewer system throughout the whole city to begin to understand what we need to do," said Calumet City Engineer Ken Chastain.
As it stands now, the sewers are not up to the task to deal with such flooding as was seen over the weekend.
"We were actually getting so much water, that the system that we have, the sewage collection system, the drainage system, the stormwater management system, simply could not take in that much water," Chastain said.
Completely rehabbing and replacing the whole sewer system will cost about $100 million, officials said.
In a plan that will lean on the state for funding, the city is asking for at least $15 million to rebuild the levy in the Calumet River. They also want to rehab all the city's sewers and repave 50 miles of alleys - a project already underway.
"It took a long time to get into the situation, and it's going take some time to get out of it," said Chastain.
The timeline for all this remains on clear. It's a matter of getting the funding from the State of Illinois.
Going back to that emergency assistance for residents, officials say they are aware that there are some elderly folks who may not know how to get online to fill out that flood assessment form.
They are being urged to call the city directly, and a clerk will be able to assist in filling it out on their behalf.
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