ALEXANDER COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Alexander County officials are hopeful an appeal of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denial will help fix roads destroyed by the New Year Flood.
Turn onto Central Bend Road off Miller City Road south of Olive Branch and you won't get far.
About 100 yards from the intersection, a huge washout from the New Year Flood created an impassable crease in the middle of the pavement. Some intrepid drivers drive off road to bypass the washout, but most just stay away.
That's life for those who live or farm in this part of Alexander County. Silt-covered roads and places where the word pothole doesn't really cover it are pretty common.
According to Alexander County Highway Engineer Jeff Denny, the roads may have to stay the way they are.
"We've got a lot of miles of road, that are still not open today so I mean -- they're in pretty bad shape."
Alexander is among 19 counties denied federal disaster assistance from FEMA in the wake of the New Year Flood. Now, Denny and officials in other counties are searching for additional damage not previously reported to appeal FEMA's denial.
"I found a bridge that didn't get captured the first time, another road that we didn't turn in the first time, so we have some additional," said Denny. "Hopefully we can get over that threshold to become a federal disaster."
The threshold is FEMA's $18.1 million dollar magic number to qualify for federal assistance. the 19 counties fell short with damage estimates only coming in at $15 million.
Denny said of that $15 million, $3 million dollars worth of damage was reported from Alexander county roads alone.
Without FEMA assistance, Denny said there is no way Alexander County can repair all off the roads to pre-flood standards on the county's $1 million per year highway budget.
"There's a possibility some roads will never get built back and all of the roads will be at a much lower level of road surface than what previously existed," said Denny. "Some will never be restored to the level that they were before the flood."
Denny said the counties are reporting additional damage this week and will appeal FEMA's denial.