Five months after a raging blizzard dumped some 20 inches of snow on Oak Park, the village is finally getting its payback.
Following the third largest snowstorm in Oak Park's history, the village was declared a disaster area, as were the county and state. Village officials hoped the designation would bring relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to cover the costs of the pricy cleanup.
That move paid off, as Oak Park received a $133,000 check last week from FEMA, according to Village Manager Tom Barwin. Altogether, the village paid upwards of $180,000 on the effort, which included paying for outside contractors to help dig out alleys, along with tons of staff overtime hours. Barwin said crews spent about 72 hours digging things out, while the FEMA reimbursement was only to cover about 75 percent of costs.
The last time Oak Park was declared a disaster area was following heavy storms in July 2010 that dropped more than eight inches of rain on the community. Oak Park spent as much as $90,000 cleaning up after that storm, but Barwin said that the village wasn't able to secure FEMA dollars a year ago.
The state and federal government can be slow paying their bills lately, as they wrestle with massive deficits, so Barwin was happy to see the $133,000.
"In this economy, things coming out of the state and federal government seem to be delayed with ever-increasing frequency," he said.