MCCLURE, IL (KFVS) - The challenges and concerns that come with living in a flood plain are nothing new in the Heartland.
After dealing with disaster last month, the McClure fire chief says new federal rules coming to his small town are leaving him high and dry.
"Ok, it started right back there off that corner back in there," said Stan Mouser as he pointed to the charred remains of the home he lived in for 31 years. "We're trying to get back, get settled in, trying to put something on here to live in."
That's where the long fought flood battle in McClure is stopping this veteran firefighter in his tracks.
A renewed effort to bring FEMA emergency protection to the 425 people who live there means Mouser simply cannot tear this house down and put in the modular home he wants to buy.
"I got a certified letter from the village," Mouser explained. "And they told me that since they applied for FEMA, I wouldn't be able to do anything like that unless I put it 15 feet in the air."
Building on stilts is a common requirement in a flood plain covered by the Federal Flood Insurance Program.
McClure mayor Cheryle Dillon says her village actually incorporated back in 2005 to get out from under what she calls Alexander County's pick and choose method of flood control building requirements.
Now, McClure wants back in.
Brian Smith is the McClure Village Attorney.
"The village passed an ordinance in June of this year," Smith said. "And it's an ordinance that implements a lot of things that are mandated by FEMA in an attempt to qualify for the Federal Flood Insurance Program."
Now, any new construction must be raised to the 100 year flood level. That means Mouser's new home would tower over his neighbors, and be the only one until someone else decides to rebuild or add on.
"I didn't think that was fair. I didn't understand why and couldn't get no answers."
There are a couple of ironies to point out.
Mayor Cheryle Dillon admits most residents won't benefit from being back in the flood insurance program because they won't be able to afford the coverage offered to them.
And right now, the only new construction that will have to be modified to meet FEMA standards is a new maintenance shed belonging to the village of McClure.
Ron Creecy worries the move means he'll lose his longtime neighbor Stan Mouser.
"They're like family, you know?" Creecy said of the Mousers. "Like I say, we've been here and raised kids up together. It's a shame that they can't build back."
I asked Creecy about his village getting back into the National Flood Insurance Program, and the impact the move could have on everyone who lives here.
"It's really scary," he said. "Because right now Stanley, if a storm or a fire, I'd have a four and a half lot garden spot. That's it."
"If you have a fire and you can't rebuild, that's another empty lot sitting here," Mouser said.
"The village is considering the general well-being and welfare of everyone in McClure," Smith said.
Still, Stan Mouser can't help but feel like a man being kicked when he's already down.
"I can't put back what I want to put back in a community I've protected for so many years, you know? And, like I say, it sort of hurts you a little bit."
Paul Osman, Illinois' Floodplain Programs manager, says he's in the process of turning McClure's application over to FEMA.
In the meantime, Stan Mouser can apply for what's called a *variance* or an exception to the building requirements, but village leaders would have to sign off on it to allow him to put a new home on solid ground.