Springtime flooding concern flood victims, county leaders

Springtime flooding concern flood victims, county leaders

ALEXANDER COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - While crews continue to clean up after the New Year flood in river communities all over the Heartland, the National Weather service issued a warning that spring floods could be on the way.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has applied for funding to patch the gaping holes in the Len Small Levee in Alexander County.

County Engineer Jeff Denny said if that money doesn't come through they could be in trouble this spring.

"It's pretty catastrophic," described Denny.

Parts of Alexander County look like a wasteland. Layers of mud and sand cover hundreds of acres of farmland, and debris lines the highways that lead to roads that no longer exist.

County crews temporarily fix the ones they can.

"Everything we do can get washed right back out," said Denny.

Denny said unless the levee is repaired, there's nothing protecting parts of Alexander County from springtime flooding.

"A lot of those areas and places that flooded could all be flooded again," he said.

This is why they aren't taking any chances.

"Might as well leave them up anyways even if the levee didn't break, we had already decided to leave them up," said Josh Shaw of Miller City.

Josh Shaw and his family decided to keep the wall of sandbags surrounding their home up through spring.

"It happened once, I am sure it will happen again," said Shaw.

Right now the corps can only afford to partially repair the levee, but Denny said it won't be enough if we experience a wetter than normal springtime.

The funding would also be put towards two levees in Missouri.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will assist with damage assessments in nearly two dozen counties devastated by record and near-record flooding and severe storms in late December and early January, including Alexander County.

"We want to do everything possible to help people and communities affected by this devastating flooding and the severe storms that preceded it.

Personnel from FEMA, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and area emergency management agencies are expected to begin assessing damage to homes and businesses in Alexander, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Iroquois, Jersey, Madison, Randolph, Sangamon and St. Clair counties on Feb. 4.

FEMA will also work with state and area officials on assessments of storm-related costs for area governments in Alexander, Bureau, Calhoun, Cass, Cumberland, Iroquois, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Marion, Mason, Menard, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Randolph, St. Clair and Vermilion counties. Those assessments are expected to begin on Feb. 1.

Gov. Rauner added Bureau and Mason counties to the state declaration for the disaster after area governments in those counties submitted information about their storm and flood-related expenses.

Twenty-three counties previously were declared state disaster areas for this event.

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