In the year since firefighters rescued Barrie Komorski and her dog from their flooded house near East Dundee, Komorski hasn't had the best of luck.
On Christmas Day of last year, the 61-year-old grandmother had a heart attack and kidney failure. Both forced her to leave her house for several months while she recovered at an area hospital.
Komorski also lost her unemployment benefits at the beginning of December, which forced her to dip into her IRA while relying on her two adult children to financially support her.
Yet Komorski hasn't lost her main symbol of independence, which is her home. She continues to pay her mortgage but says she's behind on all of her other bills. Despite her health and financial struggles as well as her house's location in a notorious flood plain, she has no plans to leave the place she's called home for 18 years.
"The only way would be if I could not survive on my own, if you know what I mean, and then my daughter says I have to move in with her," Komorski said. "Hopefully, that'll be never."
Komorski lives in the Richardson subdivision, a group of about 20 homes in unincorporated Kane County along the Fox River that were created as a series of summer cottages. Floods are a way of life there and have forced Komorski to evacuate her house in 2007, 2010 and in 2013.
Last April, Komorski planned on waiting out the floodwaters, but with water surrounding her house, there was nowhere to walk Roxi, her 2-year-old Chorkie.
Four off-duty firefighters were checking on people who hadn't evacuated the area and came across Komorski and Roxi, whom they both floated out of the subdivision on inflatable boats. Besides her dog, Komorski escaped with her medicine and cellphone, two boxes of clothes and Roxi's food. They stayed with family in Fox River Grove for about a week while the water receded.
Komorski's recent health problems kept her out of the house for three months, the longest she's ever been away.
While Komorski was gone, a neighbor looked after Roxi.
"I was just homesick, I worried about my dog, you know," Komorski said. "She wasn't used to me ever being gone that long. And now she'll see me get dressed and putting makeup on (and) she knows I'm going somewhere. She'll get on my lap and she won't move."
Komorski gets around with the help of a walker and only leaves the house -- with help from one of her children or her son-in-law -- for doctor's appointments.
She loves her neighborhood for its quiet, rustic nature and for the neighbors who look out for one another. She admits she's attached to the house because she always wanted to live in the Dundee area and because she bought the house after her divorce.
Meanwhile, she's ready for the next flood. "I'm hoping when we flood this year that it won't be that bad," Komorski said. "Because every year, we flood a little."