Ill. Congressman Mike Bost visits stranded inland barges in Alexander County

Ill. Congressman Mike Bost visits stranded inland barges in Alexander County

MILLER CITY, Ill. (KFVS) - United States Congressman Mike Bost visited with locals and toured the area where two barges are stranded in a field in Alexander County.

Months ago, six loose barges were sucked into the broken portion of the Lens Small Levee near Miller City, Ill. Four out of the six were collected but two remain stuck on land as floodwaters receded.

The Lens Small Levee broke during the New Year Flood in January 2016.

In July, Bost introduced bipartisan legislation to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to weigh navigational benefits when calculating whether or not a levee is worthy of repair.

"I'm trying every way possible to express to the bureaucrats of D.C. how important it is to fix this," Bost said. "We've tried every way possible to get the corps on board but all of their rules and regulations aren't lining up. We're still trying and we will continue to try because we can't afford to have this (points to the inland barges)."

Bost said the navigation on the Mississippi River in this area could change. He added that if the navigation changes too much, installing a lock and dam would the only way to fix it.

"That is the main route to move commerce of commodities, whether it's beans, corn or wheat. Not counting other products produced in the Chicago area and the Great Lakes. We move it down and take it to New Orleans," Bost stated. "With a navigational problem like that, the expense to those people trying to move those products is tremendous. The expense of this nation is going to be worse if it breaks through."

Elott Raffety talked to Bost during his visit. Raffety farms more than 2,500 acres in Alexander County, all of which have been under water for the majority of the year.

“We didn’t have a crop this year, period,” Raffety said. “We’ve got a lot of damage with erosion.”

Raffety hoped something could be done quickly to fix the Lens Small Levee so he can grow some crops and hopefully rebound financially. However, he said this affects more than just him in this area.

"It's just the matter that we don't have the production," Raffety added. "We aren't spending money on labor and we're not spending money on input so it affects all the businesses in the area. That's the thing about not repairing this, that it's going to affect the businesses here."

Bost said he has talked about fixing the Lens Small Levee several times on the congress floor to other state and national leaders.

This time, he planned on giving another speech to congressional leaders with pictures in-hand of the two inland barges to show his reasoning as to why there is a navigational problem and why he said it’s important to repair the levee there.

“When navigation stops along this river, you have to realize that it’s not just southern Illinois that’s affected; it is this nation and our commerce,” Bost said.

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