Meeting discusses future of the Grand Tower, IL levee
January 13, 2014 at 10:24 AM CST - Updated July 21 at 9:27 AM
GRAND TOWER, IL (KFVS)
The people of Grand Tower, Ill. and the surrounding area gathered to discuss what to do if the levee protecting them should break.
Right now, a huge pile of rock is the only thing standing between the Big Muddy river and the town.
That's because a huge sinkhole was caused by a washed out drain pipe in June. The hole only got bigger over the past several months. The levee district filled it in with rock and sand, but they say that won't hold.
Just last week, the town learned it had been turned down for federal grant money to fix this hole and other drains that may soon fail as this one did.
"I think we need a lot of help and we're just not going to get it for some reason," Theresa Pinnion said. "There's a lot of people in Grand Tower that don't have any idea what's going to happen. We don't have a clue what's going to happen."
So now Grand Tower Mayor Mike Ellet says it's time to think about what to do when the water comes.
"It aint 'what if' it's 'when it happened.' Maybe it won't be that bad this year, but any water we get at all will affect some of us," said Mayor Ellet.
More than 200 people gathered at the emergency management preparedness meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at the Grand Tower Civic Center.
And it wasn't only people from Grand Tower who attended the meeting, but those from surrounding communities too.
"My thoughts are, I bought my first house here in 1991. Ever since then the state has sent me a bill for the privilege of owning my property," Richard Pyatt said. "Now to me that makes them either a landlord or a part owner in my property. So if they're not interested in paying to help me fix it, then why don't they come down and make me an offer. They can buy me out."
City officials say 30 miles of levee from Cora to the Union County line form a bowl of sorts. They say if this levee broke, the river would flow in, swamping the 84 square miles and eight villages it now protects.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates a flood along the are would affect from 2,500-3,000 lives.