"It was bad, it was the worst I've ever seen," DiVito said of the July 2010 flooding in her Elmwood Park home. Flood water destroyed her basement and overwhelmed her pumping system with sewage. "Because the pressure built up the access panel shot off the wall and it was coming out full force like a fire hydrant."
After the July 2010 floods, FEMA organized relief for local victims and offered grants -- more than $300 million -- to help suburban homeowners rebuild.
"Disaster assistance wasn't designed to cover all your losses. Some losses that have occurred, all the money can't replace family heirlooms but it does help you begin that recovery process," Gene Romano, FEMA spokesperson, said in August 2010.
Divito applied for the program, sent FEMA information about the portion of damage her insurance company covered, and then received a FEMA check for $3,400 for more repairs. But six months later, DiVito got a letter demanding the money back -- and threatening to put her in collections if she didn't pay up.