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East St. Louis city leaders face obstacles with getting FEMA aid for flood victims

Mayor Robert Eastern says there's a monetary threshold the city's disaster damage must reach in order to get aid from FEMA.

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Along Terrace Drive in East St. Louis, uninhabitable houses, pieces of trash and debris line the street.

Kenneth Cook had to rip out the drywall after his living room flooded.

"It was like this whole area was like a lake," Cook said.

Two weeks later, many of his neighbors are still cleaning their houses out.  

"Oh, the trash was horrible. They had a big pile, they had a big pile. The whole street was lined. It took them about five days to get the trash picked up," Cook said.

"We don't have an Emergency Response Team," Mayor Robert Eastern III said. "I am it and so is my team," 

Eastern devised a three-week trash pick-up plan to cover all 25 of the city's precincts that started Aug. 8.

"The east end of town and the south end of town those are the first week. The second week is the middle of the city and the north end of town, and we'll be picking up that trash and we're working with hiring local contractors," Eastern said.

Now that the trash pickup plan is in place, residents are wondering where the city stands on getting aid from FEMA.

"I don't even know if the mayor is doing anything, you know, because people can't get loans or whatever cause they ain't got FEMA," Cook said.

Declaring a state of emergency is the first, critical step in getting FEMA aid. Eastern did that for the City, and Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation for St. Clair and Washington Counties.

"From that, there are certain thresholds, monetary thresholds that needs to be reached before, to my understanding, before FEMA will come into our area," Eastern said.

Eastern did not disclose the amount needed to qualify, but said "that number is pretty significant".

With FEMA aiding the Missouri side of the St. Louis region this week, Eastern is working with state leaders to bring them to East St. Louis.

"By us being located in proximity to St. Louis and some of the other counties, we may be able to use that guideline to be able to get FEMA here quicker. It's not guaranteed yet, we're still trying to work it out, but it's definitely in the conversation," Eastern said.

"Eastern urges impacted citizens and businesses to call The United Way's 211 line or fill out the form on the city's website to record flood damage.

RELATED: Variety of resources available for East St. Louis flooding victims

Eastern is hosting a flood supply giveaway in partnership with Lowe's at City Hall on Friday, Aug. 12 at 10 a.m.

Curbside collection is happening Aug. 8-26.

Have your items curbside by 7 a.m. Aug. 15 and 22.

August 8 pick-up for precincts: 2,3,4,5,18,19,20,21,22,23,24 and 25.

August 15 pick-up for precincts: 1,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16 and 17.

August 26 pick-up is for all precinct districts.

Self-disposal dumping sites occur during daylight hours only at 15 S. 15th Broadway and 510 N. 20th near the salt lot.

Tires, electronics, paint, vegetation and flammable liquids are not allowed.

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