FEMA assessing flood damage in Illinois for possible disaster declaration

GALESBURG, Illinois -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is taking a look at flood damage in Illinois, touring homes in Knox County this week to determine if there's enough damage to request federal help.

A team could be seen visiting the home of Fran Klahvon on Wednesday, about four miles north of Galesburg. FEMA is doing what it calls preliminary damage assessment, a quick interview about the flooding in his basement earlier this year.

"It just came up through and around the foundation all over and it just kept coming in," said Klahvon. "I think the ground was just saturated from all the rain and everything earlier in the spring," he said.

FEMA teams are following up on reports of damage from between February 24th to July 3rd it receives from individual counties across the state. A local official, like the Galesburg fire chief, escorts them to each damaged home. The preliminary damage assessment teams do not conduct an inspection.

"This is only the first step in getting a disaster declaration," said Jann Tracey, FEMA spokesperson. "The first thing we have to do is determine if there`s enough damage to even warrant asking the federal government to step in and help," she said.

Klahvon said he has lived in his home for 46 years, but this was this year was the first time his basement ever flooded.

"We worked at it all night trying to keep the water level down so the only real damage that we had was primarily to the floor and it took out a whole wooden floor," said Klahvon.

FEMA teams are conducting preliminary damage assessments in 20 Illinois counties, a number that could grow depending on the need. It could be weeks before a decision is made on whether to make a disaster declaration.

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