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How Much Will Spring Floods Cost Southern Illinois Counties?

2019 flooding was historic due to the longevity of the flooding and the height the three area rivers reached. The high water mark for the Mississippi River at St. Louis was 46.02 feet, the second-highest recorded crest.

by Kavahn Mansouri, Belleville News-Democrat / July 22, 2019

(TNS) — After months of persistent flooding in the metro-east, counties are tabulating the damages and requesting millions of dollars in federal assistance.

Thursday marked the last day for Illinois counties to request Public Assistance Reimbursement through the state. Between Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties, roughly $33 million in aid is being requested. The figure is expected to go higher.

“We knew the costs would be high due to the length of the flooding, but never imagined it would be this high,” Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said.

This year’s flooding was historic for the area due to the longevity of the flooding and the height the Mississippi, Illinois and Kaskaskia rivers reached. The high water mark for the Mississippi River at St. Louis, reached on Saturday, June 8, was 46.02 feet, the second-highest recorded crest.

That meant sandbagging, protective measures, debris removal and more for more than three months. In total, Madison County estimated roughly $24.8 million in damages and costs while St. Clair County assessed roughly $8.1 million.

“Our communities worked tirelessly to ensure public safety and to protect the residents and businesses of the county,” Prenzler said.

Monroe County, where areas like Valmeyer were threatened by flooding, is requesting $880,525 in assistance. However, county emergency management agency director Ryan Weber said that number will surely rise as many roads are still underwater and haven’t been assessed yet.

Under Illinois Emergency Management Agency guidelines, costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures, road and bridge systems, water control facilities, buildings and equipment, utility systems and more can be included in public assistance reimbursement requests.

Madison County alone exceeded the statewide minimum of $19.2 million enforced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Madison County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Mary Kate Brown said the $24.8 million figure could rise because some areas are still underwater.

The hardest area hit in Madison County, Prenzler said, was America’s Central Port in Granite City, where more than $11.25 million in damage has been reported.

“America’s Central Port has a huge economic impact on the region,” he said.

St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Director Herb Simmons said the county has kept a close eye on all expenses since flooding has started.

“We’re keeping track of everything we’ve done, starting from back in March, which is when this all started,” Simmons told the BND in June. “Everything from the cost of sand, the labor to fill the sandbags, fuel for the pumps that has been used, any type of equipment that would have to be rented.”

Figures for Jersey County, which includes Grafton, where there was substantial flooding, and Calhoun County, which includes Hardin, were not immediately available.

The costs of all the counties in Illinois will be compiled and evaluated. After that, Gov. J.B. Pritzker will have the option to request a federal disaster declaration to help reimburse state and local agencies, as well as individuals.

President Donald Trump then would make a final decision to grant the declaration with a recommendation from FEMA.

Assistance, in total or part, is not guaranteed. In the past, the state has had little luck in the federal aid department after disasters. In 2015, after a spell of flooding, the state received no federal funding after requesting $15 million in aid.

“All of those communities could have used help back then, (and) it’s sad they didn’t get it,” Simmons said.


©2019 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.)

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