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updated: 8/8/2014 2:27 PM

DuPage County to receive $18.9 million in federal flood relief

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  • DuPage County will receive $18.9 million in federal grant money because of the widespread flooding of April 2013. The funding is in addition to the $7 million previously approved for the county.

       DuPage County will receive $18.9 million in federal grant money because of the widespread flooding of April 2013. The funding is in addition to the $7 million previously approved for the county.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer, April 2013

 
 

More than a year after storms caused major flooding throughout DuPage, the county is poised to receive a second round of federal disaster recovery money.

Officials say the county -- which had thousands of properties suffer flood damage in April 2013 -- is planning to use $18.9 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay for flood-prevention projects and buy homes that chronically flood.

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"It's nice to see the federal government came up with this program," said Jim Zay, chairman of the DuPage County Board's stormwater committee. "Obviously, the April 2013 floods were pretty widespread throughout the county. It (federal grant money) has been a big help."

DuPage previously received $7 million from HUD's Community Development Block Grant Program. About $3 million of that was set aside for a project to reduce the threat of flooding near Armstrong Park in Carol Stream.

Then, in June, HUD announced DuPage will receive an additional $18.9 million in disaster relief funds. Now officials are preparing an "action plan" describing how they intend to spend the money. The document must be submitted to HUD by October.

The plan lists projects in Bloomingdale, Villa Park, Glen Ellyn, Warrenville and Winfield.

About $3.5 million will be used for the Armstrong Park project, which involves building two reservoirs.

Another $4.4 million will be used for restoration and flood mitigation along the West Branch of the DuPage River in Warrenville. The project includes construction of a flood protection berm and other flood-control measures.

Warrenville Mayor David Brummel said the project is the third phase of work that already has begun.

"The county has been doing wonderful things in conjunction with the city and the forest preserve district the last few years," Brummel said. "The river has improved, and flood mitigation has been enhanced. There's no downside to what's been happening."

The plan also calls for $1.55 million to be set aside for two projects in Villa Park. The first would build "green infrastructure" to reduce localized flooding. The other would improve infrastructure to reduce flooding in the Sugar Creek watershed.

DuPage also plans to use roughly $4.5 million to buy up to 44 flood-prone properties around the county. Some of the parcels expected to be acquired are in Lisle, Downers Grove and Westmont.

Once those houses are demolished, the parcels can remain as green space and be allowed to flood without causing damage.

Officials say voluntary buyouts are the only option for areas where there aren't permanent solutions to flooding.

"It doesn't matter what kind of project we do," Zay said, "these houses are still going to have some kind of flooding problem. They are so far below where they need to be that the only alternative is to buy them out."

Before county officials submit the plan to HUD, they are seeking input from the community.

The document is available for public comment through Sept. 10 at dupageco.org/cdbg-dr.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at the county's administrative building, 421 N. County Farm Road in Wheaton.

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