Cook County Flood Relief: Aid is Approaching – Our Vigilance Remains Essential

Last month, we saw record-breaking storms in Cook County, leading to significant flooding in our neighborhoods.

In an instant, lives and livelihoods were changed by the torrential rainfall.

Homeowners and businesses experienced damages, some uninsured and, in some cases, unrecoverable. 

This led to some families having to temporarily or even permanently relocate, to their substantial economic detriment. Some businesses have had to close their doors – either temporarily or permanently. As a result, Cook County’s economy has found itself in turmoil. 

But the federal government is stepping in to help.

On August 17th, President Biden announced the approval of a federal disaster declaration for Cook County in response to those storms and their devastating impact.

This declaration paves the way for Cook County and its residents to receive funding for storm recovery efforts, including grants for temporary housing and home repair, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses, and associated programs to assist home and business owners in starting over after this disastrous event.

This federal help could not have been more urgently needed, and it did not come a moment too soon.

Before the declaration from the White House, Cook County residents were packing local meetings of community groups in a desperate attempt to be heard by their local leaders.

Some of these residents publicly attest to having four feet of water in their basement, which destroyed their furnace, water heater and all the furniture they kept down there.

At a senior building in Austin, 70 residents found themselves displaced after the flooding took out the power in their building.

Attendees of these meetings all had similar questions: How do I get compensation? Who will prevent this catastrophic event from happening again – and how?

Hopefully, President Biden’s declaration will begin to answer that first question at the very least. But we still have a lot of work to begin to answer how this kind of disaster can be prevented – how and by whom.

And if it does, God forbid, happen again – we need to ensure that we have a system in place to care for our communities, community members and businesses.

These considerations are especially crucial for communities of color – particularly Black neighborhoods, families, and small-business owners – who are often already at a historical and statistical disadvantage regarding home ownership, generational wealth and starting and maintaining a business.

Local leaders need to have credible and actionable plans to help make these individuals, families and businesses whole again in the wake of the impact of such natural events, which are most often beyond their full anticipation and control.

We must heed Mayor Brandon Johnson’s warning about the possible upcoming bad weather we may have coming our way and prepare our homes for potential damage to make sure our families have a backup plan if we need to evacuate or become displaced and to make sure our homes and businesses are properly insured, if at all possible.

And we must keep pushing our local leaders to be better prepared for such events and better equipped to look out for the most vulnerable among us, including lower-income families and seniors.

I plan to use my voice as a community leader and resident of this great city and county.

Promoting legislation around natural disaster response and relief should be a top priority, ranking high on the priority list for our elected officials.

If you need assistance, please call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585, or register online at

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