Village underwater: Lisle looks back 1 year after severe floods hit town
LISLE – This time last year, Lisle was underwater.
A storm that occurred April 18, 2013, dumped more than seven inches of rain on the area. Lisle was among those hardest hit.
Local responders from the police and fire departments, the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office and the National Guard were deployed. A state of emergency was declared in Lisle, and surrounding communities, and hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their homes.
“I’ve been living here since 1978 and I’ve never seen flooding that bad in this area,” said Mayor Joe Broda. “It just came down so fast, so quickly.”
A press release recently published on the village website states more than 300 homes and businesses in Lisle were affected by the floods, and 40 were ultimately declared to be substantially damaged.
Broda said some residents are waiting for buyout funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to the release, Lisle applied for and is expecting a $3 million FEMA grant to assist those who suffered the most flood damage. The village will contribute $1 million in addition to the grant to purchase properties from owners who voluntarily accept a buyout. Broda estimated the number to be between 30 and 35 homes.
Some of the funds also will be used to elevate affected homes to protect them from future flooding, the release stated.
Broda said those who accept a buyout will be offered a fair-market value as of the day before the flooding and the village will demolish the property and leave the area as open space.
“It can’t be used for anything that has any structure because it is in the floodplain,” Broda said. “The goal of FEMA is to get all structures out of the floodplain.”
The village spent nearly $400,000 in the wake of the flooding on repairs and cleanup in the community, he said.
“It had an impact on our budget,” he said. “However, we were reimbursed by (FEMA) for 75 percent of our expenses.”
The remaining 25 percent was taken from village reserves.
The village and the federal government were far from the only organizations to spend money on cleanup and repairs.
The Tower of Four Lakes Villages apartment complex suffered about $4 million in damage, said Jim Cunningham, the executive vice president of property management and chief operating officer of Marquette, a private real estate company.
Although an insurance company assisted in funding the repairs, “a good portion of those costs were covered by Marquette and the owners of the property,” he said.
Residents of the towers were displaced for about two months, although none of the units had water damage.
The parking garage and lobby were severely affected by the flooding, and the water destroyed the building’s electrical system, which kept residents from returning to their homes sooner, Cunningham said.
After residents moved back in, occupancy levels dipped into the range of 60 percent, he said. The building now maintains an occupancy level around 94 percent.
Though the real estate company feels confident this was a once-in-a-lifetime weather event, he said, “We do get a little nervous when it rains, a little more nervous than before.”
After spending more than $1 million on restoration and repairs, Lisle Lanes bowling alley co-owner Cesar Canonigo said things “are pretty much back to normal.”
But the experience has been a tough one. He said his insurance company denied coverage for the damage because it classified the business as being located in a basement. FEMA agreed with the company’s interpretation.
Canonigo has since hired an attorney, who he said is in communication with the insurance company.
Fortunately, his business has received support from the community, the bowling leagues that regularly visited the alley before the flood and even some new faces.
But Canonigo has doubts about his decision to restore the bowling alley.
“We have been here 20 years now and my heart and soul is all at Lisle Lanes,” he said. “It’s like your baby you’ve been nurturing all these years and just one day you wake up with a nightmare. Your first reaction is to save it.”
“Hopefully things will somehow come out on the good side.”