Community leaders in Mt. Vernon to demolish homes built in floodplain

Flood hazard mitigation measures after a large amount of rain fell in the drainage areas of the creeks in 2018

Mt. Vernon House demolished 2/5

MT. VERNON, Ill. (KFVS) - Chronic flooding has leaders in Mt. Vernon working to make some big changes.

After the September 2018 flood, majority of the homes were substantially damaged. So, the city of Mt. Vernon adopted Jefferson County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan recommending that repetitive flood loss properties be acquired and demolished.

These efforts are to eliminate future flood damages, public flood response expenditures, public subsidized flood insurance claims, and threats to public health.

According to Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the city of Mt. Vernon was approved for $833, 929. The estimated cost, without maintenance costs, includes acquisition, asbestos abatement, demolition and clearance of the property acquired, and more.

While the city works to eliminate the condemned homes, some residents want to keep their neighborhood intact. “It was quick, it happened just immediately it seemed like,” John Twiggs said.

Twiggs lives in a Mt. Vernon neighborhood. He’s talking about the impact of a major flooding event back in September 2018.“My home was fine. My sump pump kicked in, I mean, it ran for a day or so, but it was not bad,” he said.

Adrian Young has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years. He too experienced damage in that 2018 flood. "It was to the top of the floor,” he said. “Luckily, we had an upstairs.”

The money is enough money to tear down 17 “uninhabitable” homes.

While Young’s backyard is in that floodplain, his house is not, so his home is not a part of that buyout.

“I feel pretty bad,” Young said. “I thought they would offer something to help us out, [because] it ain’t no flood insurance you can get.”

One homeowner on Bishop Court street told KFVS she did not want to take the buyout, but she had no choice. So, she’s taking the money and moving to Florida. It’s a problem the mayor said he tried to avoid.

“It creates a lot of problems,” Mayor John Lewis said. “It devastates families that are in the floodplains that have built there, or their homes are located there. And there is no fix for it. Mother Nature is going to reclaim that property every single time it can.”

The two neighbors outside the floodplain will continue to stay in the neighborhood, still with some hope.

“I just bought this house,” Twiggs said. “Just put a new metal roof on it. So, I’m happy I’m out of it.”

“At the end, hopefully, they do construction down here if they could...” Young said.

The city will front the cost of the project from their general fund, once the it’s complete the state will reimburse them.

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