|After an August 21 storm caused the worst flooding South Haven, Illinois has seen since 1991, a number of homes in the area were significantly damaged. But while more than three weeks have passed since the initial flood, area residents say they have not received any state or federal aid to make necessary repairs. As a result, at least two houses are currently uninhabitable and others have incurred serious damage. At least one family is staying in their home despite the problems because they have nowhere to go.The August 21 storm wasn’t the first flood South Haven area had seen over the course of the summer, as heavy rains and floods had also occurred on Mother’s Day. However, it did cause the most problems, resulting in so much water that minivans were submerged and the South Haven Volunteer Fire Department had to rescue people by boat. But despite the damage, local officials say that the costs aren’t high enough to qualify for repair assistance, even when combined with those in nearby Portage. Many town residents are organizing, reaching out to government agencies and working to prevent further flooding, but for the moment, this lack of aid is leaving some people in the lurch.
Several houses have experienced typical flood problems: many crawl spaces are filled with mold and sewage, while appliances, furnishings and carpeting were ruined and now fill two construction-sized trash containers. In the cases where the homes are uninhabitable, residents are typically staying with family members and friends while they try to handle flood-related matters. But there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out for anyone: some people have reported that they did not qualify for flood insurance because their homes were not located in a flood plain, and others have been denied coverage because their plans did not include sewage back-ups. As a result, many have now way to pay for repairs or replacements.
Unfortunately, this gap between insurance coverage and repairs is a problem across the United States, as many homeowners often can’t afford the additional cost of repairs in addition to the general payments associated with owning a house. As a result, a number of people across the country have commented on the hidden costs of housing and the challenges they pose to a high number of Americans.
The South Haven area has formed a committee to address the flooding and work with local government, such as the Twin Peaks Conservancy District.The district has already spent $2 million on building retention ponds on the west side of the town, but says that Porter County will need to focus on diverting the storm water away from Governor Road, the site of some of the worst destruction. A plan commissioned by the county in 2012 reports that it could cost $16 million to fix South Haven’s flood problems.
Residents of South Haven have set up two fundraising accounts to raise money for necessary repairs: www.gofundme.com/dfv1b4 and www.gofundme.com/dlj86c. A Facebook page titled South Haven Families of Flood has also been created for anyone who wishes to make a charitable donation or offer additional help.