“Gonna be a several-month process:” FEMA teams begin surveying flood damage in 3 SE WI counties

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BURLINGTON -- People whose homes were badly damaged by record flooding in July met with federal officials Tuesday, August 1st, as FEMA began touring affected areas in Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.

In Burlington, inspectors toured homes along the Fox River -- which took on a lot of water.

Eric Mitchell

Eric Mitchell knew the water was rising. He and his wife put everything in the basement up on shelves but it didn't matter.

"When the basement fills up, there's no protecting," Mitchell said, "The basement filled all the way to the rafters and then just starting coming in the doors."

Mitchell said after the flood, his biggest concern is mold -- some visible in those basement rafters.

"Flood insurance doesn't cover moisture damage. Mold is moisture damage," Mitchell said.

On Tuesday, FEMA inspectors made their way up the Mitchells' block.

"We're seeing water lines on the side of houses. We're seeing construction debris or demolition debris out on the curb and that's giving us a good indicator there's been some impact there," Dan Shulman, FEMA spokesman said, "There's a lot of damage here in the city and we're getting a better sense of what the extent of that damage was property by property."

FEMA tours in Burlington

Mitchell said he was surprised by the short duration of the FEMA visit, adding he expected the inspectors to take a more specific account of his damage.

"Just a quick assessment, a few questions on whether you own or rent it, how much water did you get in the house and that was pretty much it, not even the extent of the damage or anything did they ask," Mitchell said.

FEMA officials said grants and loans could be available, but added it's most important that homeowners find out what kind of flood insurance they have.

"There's still a $10,000 deductible on contents too," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he worries the repairs will be costly either way. While the Fox River has receded, his drawers were still swollen shut, making it difficult to fully assess his damage.

Eric Mitchell

"You have to pry them open. This is where I got all my electrical stuff, my painting equipment," Mitchell said.

Homeowners like Mitchell said they're worried this will be a lengthy ordeal, regardless of who comes by to see them.

"This is gonna be a several-month process yet," Mitchell said.

FEMA tours in Burlington

Once the inspections are done, a report will go to Governor Scott Walker's office. Gov. Walker will then decide whether to ask for federal aid.

FEMA officials said there's no timetable for how long the assessments will take.