West Siders were hit particularly hard by floods nearly a month ago.
To see what relief is needed, both federal and state emergency management agencies have been surveying the damage this week.
It’s a preliminary damage assessment in which the state will determine if damage is beyond both state and local resources to handle. After that, the state agency will decide if it’ll request federal assistance. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is on the ground surveying, it does not guarantee that residents will receive federal assistance.
“When these officials come to your door, we do want to hear the story. We want to understand the impact of what took place in that flooding event,” FEMA regional administrator Tom Sivak said at a news conference Wednesday. “We’re not taking personal information, but we are understanding that event and the damages that happened in your home.”
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward) said that federal and state partners finished their preliminary assessments Friday. They’ll take those numbers to both Gov. J.B. Pritzker and President Joe Biden, and by next week we’ll know whether there will be a federal disaster declaration, she added.
Jitu Brown, an Austin resident and board president with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, had about 4 feet of water in his home — his library destroyed, couch ruined and wall outlets damaged.
Earlier in the week, FEMA and Illinois Emergency Management Agency, or IEMA, workers were on his block for the preliminary damage assessment.
“People felt seen,” Brown said. “While it definitely moved slow, people were eager to share with the IEMA and FEMA representatives the devastation that occurred.”
Stephen Robinson, executive director of Northwest Austin Council and an Austin resident, said he’d like to see a task force that can think of more preventative measures for the next time it floods.
“Something has to be put in place in front of these homes to prevent this water from coming back in,” Robinson said.
For cleaning supplies, residents can go to the corner of Division Street and Long Avenue on Mondays at 1 p.m., Brown said. Donations can be made here. Cleaning supplies like bleach, Pine-Sol or detergent can be dropped off at the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, 4242 S. Cottage Grove Ave.