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updated: 7/3/2013 12:31 PM

Wood Dale gets grant to buy flood-prone properties

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Wood Dale will be able to buy five residential properties that regularly flood along Salt Creek thanks to a nearly $1.1 million grant from the federal government.

Mayor Annunziato "Nunzio" Pulice said the city applied for the grant in 2011 in response to flooding that happened along the creek in 2008.

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Pulice said buying flood-prone properties is a far less expensive approach to mitigating natural hazards than constructing another facility similar to the Wood Dale-Itasca reservoir.

"We could put in four more of those reservoirs and still not stop the flooding," he said.

So Pulice said he was happy to get a phone call Tuesday from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's office informing him the city will get $1,093,748 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As part of its proposed project, Wood Dale will acquire five properties from homeowners who want to sell. Three of the parcels are located south of Irving Park Road and two are near city hall.

"We've got some homes that need to be taken out," said Pulice, adding at least two of the properties have houses that are uninhabitable because of flood damage.

Once the houses at the five locations are demolished, the parcels will remain as green space. Keeping the parcels vacant will allow them to flood without causing damage. It also will reduce future flood insurance claims and the financial obligation of federal, state and local governments after a disaster, federal officials said.

Wood Dale officials initially sought federal money to purchase nine residential properties. Still, they said, they're pleased with the grant the city received.

After it was awarded, Durbin issued a written statement saying the federal money will "help protect the health, safety and welfare of local residents."

"While local communities continue to face major budget shortfalls, this federal investment will make an important difference," Durbin said.

Officials said the grant was awarded through FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides grants to state and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration.

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