ALEXANDER COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced $8.7 million in federal funding to acquire and demolish 167 flood-prone homes and businesses in Alexander County.
The funding was approved Monday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The state will provide nearly $3 million in capital funds to cover the required 25 percent local match.
"Oh it would make me feel wonderful if they do it,"said Helen Stilley owner of the Horseshoe Lake Motel. "If they really mean business and really do it. I've not had much faith over the past two years going on like this, but I hope they do."
Shortly after the floods, Governor Quinn secured a federal disaster declaration, which provided assistance for individuals, businesses and counties working to rebuild.
Representatives from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) have worked closely with local officials in Alexander County throughout the grant application process. The Geology Department at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale also provided assistance to the county.
Most of the properties that will be acquired are in Olive Branch, a community that was particularly hard-hit by flooding in 2011.
But, not everyone is taking the buyout. And they've already spent the money to fix their homes, they're willing to take the risk of another flood to stay right where they are.
"I am staying here, I've just got a lot of memories," said Gary Squires. "And I've been happy here. This was my wife's favorite place. And I've just decided to stay. If everybody was to leave what would happen to Olive Branch?"
Other properties are in Tamms and Thebes. Purchase prices will be based on appraisals of pre-flood home values.
The grants announced Monday will also fund projects to elevate four additional homes, helping prevent future flood damage.
The Alexander County project will be one of the largest flood-related acquisitions ever in Illinois.
To date, more than 3,000 homes and businesses have been purchased and the land turned into open spaces.
By removing structures from the flood-prone areas, communities can save on future flood-fighting expenses and residents can avoid the heartbreak of repeated flood damage, according to the governor's office.
The federal funds were made available through FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The state's match was made available through Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) capital funds.