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“Higher than we’ve ever seen:” Fed. disaster declaration would help flood victims without insurance

Lt. Horace Staples

KENOSHA COUNTY -- Those hit hardest by flooding July 11th-12th in Kenosha, Racine and Walworth Counties may be eligible for federal assistance -- and that could be determined early this week.

The historic flooding led to more than $2 million worth of damage in Kenosha County.

On Sunday, July 30th, Lt. Horace Staples, Emergency Management director for Kenosha County, said he'd had just one day off since the flooding. Staples said in his 22-year career in Kenosha County, the July flooding was the worst he's seen.

"River levels higher than we've ever seen," Lt. Staples said. "We did estimate the damages here in Kenosha County to total anywhere from $2.3 million."

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While the flow of the Fox River has returned to normal, many of those whose lives it touched continue to work to recover.

"The community has basically come together to help one another," Lt. Staples said. "A lot of the residents still have clean-up to do, as well as putting some of their personal possessions out that we can start the removal process."

As of Sunday, the damage was still being tallied as officials worked to pursue a presidential disaster declaration. If that is declared, homeowners without flood insurance could receive federal assistance. Lt. Staples said the flooding was so severe in Salem and other areas that homes outside the typical flood plain were affected.

"A lot of outlying areas in this particular region, as well as east in the Village of Somers, as well as the city -- they had the same type of problems," Lt. Staples said.

Governor Scott Walker has declared Kenosha, Racine and Walworth Counties disaster areas. They are eligible to be considered for FEMA assistance.

Lt. Staples said Sunday FEMA officials would be on the ground early this week to determine whether the counties are eligible for a presidential disaster declaration.

Representatives from FEMA will start preliminary work Monday, July 31st -- meeting with state and local officials in the afternoon. On Tuesday morning, the damage assessments begin, and teams will go out and survey homes and businesses in the area.