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Article updated: 4/25/2013 1:10 PM

Government entities compiling flood-related costs

By Mick Zawislak Bob Susnjara

Initial indications Wednesday were that flood expenses incurred by municipalities and other governments in Lake County could meet the threshold for possible federal reimbursement.

Preliminary estimates of manpower, equipment and other costs that poured into the Lake County Emergency Management Agency had totaled more than $4.36 million. That's far above the combined $2.4 million threshold required should a federal disaster declaration be forthcoming.

However, officials stressed the information has to be reviewed and there is a long way to go before a determination is made.

"We want to keep compiling because all of that may not be eligible," said C. Kent McKenzie, the emergency management coordinator.

That agency is gathering cost assessments for what is known as public assistance to submit to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The information will be sent to federal authorities.

And because of the scope of the flooding and number of entities potentially involved, IEMA extended its original 3 p.m. Wednesday deadline and will continue to accept preliminary estimates for the foreseeable future, McKenzie said.

Assessing damage to homes and businesses for potential reimbursement is a different process expected to get under way in earnest next week.

McKenzie said he submitted 441 pages of addresses garnered through GIS modeling that correlate to about 4,500 structures affected in some manner by flooding. Damage estimates for those properties are to be determined and will be gauged differently for potential reimbursement, he added.

"It's not just add up the numbers and compare it to a threshold," McKenzie said.

As of late Wednesday, McKenzie had submitted 43 forms for assistance from municipalities, park districts and other jurisdictions. But many, such as Gurnee, are still determining costs. Local jurisdictions can receive grants covering up to 80 percent of eligible costs.

For comparison, 125 requests for assistance were submitted by Lake County after the blizzard of 2011. There are 339 taxing bodies in the county, he said.

Hard-hit Fox Lake submitted a preliminary estimate of $166,000 for materials and manpower, according to Annette Wolf, the village's emergency services director.

"It's been 24/7. Everybody's getting worn down. We're trying to do the best with what we have," she said.

County authorities expected water levels on the Chain O' Lakes to drop 2 to 3 inches a day and take two weeks to reach minor flood levels.

Wolf said cleaning kits will be available to residents from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Lakefront Park, 71 Nippersink Road.

There are 100 kits available, but 400 more are to be delivered, she said. She stressed that residents should take pictures of any damage.

"Document before you clean," she said.

Aside from a few homes near Lake Minear that had water in basements, Libertyville reported little flooding impact from the Des Plaines River as scores of volunteers filled and piled sandbags in several locations. Oak Spring Road was damaged, as was the pier at Butler Lake, Fire Chief Rich Carani said. The village submitted about $75,000 in expenses.

"For the most part, the sandbags did their jobs," he said.

County authorities expected the Des Plaines to drop to minor flood stage in Gurnee by Wednesday evening and at Lincolnshire by Friday.

In Gurnee, 18,000 to 20,000 sandbags were distributed to help affected homeowners and businesses protect structures from floodwater, village management analyst Erik Jensen said.

Gurnee's flood zone was in a section of the village principally around Kilbourne Road, Emerald Avenue and Old Grand Avenue east of the river. Most Gurnee employees were on regular time during the flooding, but some public works crews were on late for a couple of days last week, he said.

Ela Township Assessor John Barrington issued a reminder Wednesday that property owners affected by the flooding should know they have certain rights because Gov. Pat Quinn declared Lake County a disaster area on April 18.

Barrington said it allows owners to request a reassessment of any taxable property substantially damaged by flooding. He said there also can be a reduction when a property is uninhabitable for a period of time as a result of the disaster.

If a property has been damaged, Barrington said, taxpayers must contact a township assessor where they live as soon as possible to complete a special disaster area reassessment application.

"It is imperative that homeowners reach out to us now so that we can document the damage that has been done and adequately adjust the rate," he said.

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