Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was in Elmhurst Thursday afternoon with Elmhurst City Manager Jim Grabowski and mayors from other west suburban communities to urge residents to stay away from flood waters and keep track of the expenses they incur as a result of flood damage. He also repeatedly mentioned the state's need to invest more money in flood control.
But the immediate concern, he said, is to "help people get through this very serious matter" with sandbags, generators and other assistance.
"One of the homeowners here in Elmhurst got 7 feet of water in their basement," Quinn said. "I've seen it first hand."
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is "very concerned about the next few days," Quinn said, adding that rivers in Illinois could overflow their banks at any time.
"We have very grave concerns that certain waterways will go way above flood stage. We don't want to take anything for granted," he said.
Elmhurst Acting Mayor Scott Levin declared a state of emergency for Elmhurst this morning, and Quinn declared a state of emergency for Illinois, which potentially will give the state access to federal resources to pay for damages.
Grabowski said this storm has produced more rain in Elmhurst than any of the major storms of 2010 or 1987. He spoke about the work Elmhurst has done so far on its stormwater and sanitary plan, spending "in excess of $1 million" to put together a plan for southwest Elmhurst.
Some of the questions directed to Quinn and Grabowski were specifically about Elmhurst, and pointed to the repeated flooding in this area.
"It's all over our state, not only here in Elmhurst," Quinn said. "Every community is part of Illinois today, whether in LaSalle County, Quincy, Elmhurst, Des Plaines or any other town—particularly towns close to waterways.
"We have to do better at water management and flood control. We need to invest public money to protect property," he said.
The state is assessing where the investments will have to be made, he said.
"We just have to rise up and work together to deal with the emergency now, and we'll assess ways to prevent flooding in the future," he said.
He emphasized the importance of homeowners keeping records of exactly how much flood repairs cost so they can apply for assistance.
"Keep track of all your facts and figures in order to get any type of recovery. Keep track of all expenses," he said.
Quinn was joined by mayors from Des Plaines, Westchester and Lombard. They mentioned that hundreds of homes are flooded, streets are still totally submerged, cars are stranded and detention basins are full.
More rain is headed this way.
"If it rains another couple of inches, we're going to be where we were at 5 o'clock this morning," Lombard Acting President William Ware said.
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