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August 15, 2001

Ryan Requests Presidential Disaster Declaration for Chicago Flood

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George Ryan today asked President Bush to consider a Presidential Disaster Declaration because of the damage caused by the flash flooding August 2 in the City of Chicago and other parts of Cook County.

"We know from our preliminary damage assessment that thousands of homes were affected," said Governor Ryan, noting that the estimated cost already stands at $6.7 million. "Because of the nature of this type of flooding, the fact that you can't see the damage without going into each home, we think the numbers of people who suffered losses are probably even greater than these preliminary figures."

The initial assessment, conducted by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and city and county officials, indicated that nearly 10,000 homes suffered damage from the torrential rain that shut down expressways and Chicago Transit Authority trains. The resulting runoff overwhelmed the city's combined storm and sewer systems, causing sewer backup flooding. Damage included destruction of personal property, furnaces, water heaters and other basement appliances.

Governor Ryan issued a gubernatorial disaster declaration August 6 after the extent of the damage became more clear. A state disaster declaration is the first step toward requesting federal assistance. A federal declaration would mean low-interest loans or individual and family grants would be available to those who are eligible under FEMA guidelines. Chicago received federal declarations in 1993 and 1997 for similar flash flooding episodes caused by heavy rainfall in a short period of time.

Governor Ryan's request was sent to President Bush through FEMA, the federal agency responsible for disaster aid.


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