Tears from Cary residents and stories of how the flooding from late June left their lives in ruins dominated a specially called village board meeting Thursday night.
There was Marisol Adamo, a single mother who moved to Cary in October, not knowing about the flooding issues. After nearly six inches of rain fell in less than three hours, Adamo had more than four feet of water in her house and sustained more than $30,000 in losses.
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There was Marvin Sternberg, who found more than four feet of water in his basement at 5 a.m. the morning after the floods. Sternberg says water would have drowned his children and dog if he had gotten up any later.
And there was Clyde Porter, who said the six floods he experienced for 17 years forced him and his family to move out of their Cary home two years ago. To this day, sound of rainfall makes him nervous.
"We wanted so badly to live in our house, but we had to resolve it wasn't living," Porter said as he fought back tears. "I watched neighbors walk away. I never thought I would be one."
They were among more than 50 people who packed the meeting and implored the village board and officials to do something about the frequent flooding.
The village called the special meeting to listen to residents' concerns and report back to them about what they've been doing since the extensive flooding, which forced many residents to part with family heirlooms.
A storm of that magnitude is one that occurs once in 100 years, Public Works Director Cris Papierniak said.
Preliminary estimates show the village experienced $388,000 in damage from the storm and that 37 homes, eight businesses and 33 intersections were flooded.
Even so, it has not been enough for McHenry County and the state to declare the village a disaster area, which is why the village needs residents to document their damage.
"It's an uphill battle for us (to get the designation), but we're determined to keep trying," Papierniak said. "Any information you have helps us."
The village is also seeking Small Business Association loans to help residents and merchants cover some of the damage, as well as FEMA public assistance and possible federal funding for future stormwater management projects. Village board President Mark Kownick is meeting with Congressman Peter Roskam on Friday to discuss flooding assistance.
Finally, officials are reviewing an engineering study completed years ago that suggested ways to stop the flooding but that a board in the past never implemented.
Kownick said he can't speak to what happened in the past and can only look to the future.
"This board is going to take some active steps to make sure this doesn't happen again," Kownick said.
But what happens to the houses in the Sunset Crest neighborhood -- which experienced some of the worst flood damage -- that are up for sale? A pair of residents asked whether trustees can prevent real estate agents from selling them, and Trustee Karen Lukasik wasn't sure the village could legally intervene.
But resident Candice Neely said she will do her part to make sure prospective buyers know the dangers of purchasing a house in the neighborhood before they move in.
"I will be out there screaming, 'It floods, do not buy,'" she said.