Students write to help save levees

Relief is coming to families in Southern Illinois who depend on the old levees to protect them from flooding.

Every member of the Jackson County Board approved a draft resolution that would bring $1.6 million worth of repairs to the Grand Tower levee.

The money would come from county bonds and repairs could begin as early as next month.

The bonds worth nearly $1.7 million were approved by voters in 1994 for levee repairs.

Last June, former Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing Jackson County leaders to access the bonds.

The county only used $100,000 of the money before access to them expired in 2001.

The vote also comes after years of requests for help from people who live near the levees.

City leaders, adults and even teens are asking for help from the state and federal government.

In her desk at Shawnee High, Abbey Livesay was armed with a pencil and piece of notebook paper as she wrote a letter to Senator Durbin, Senator Kirk and Senator Bost.

She is asking that they help her save the levee near her house.

“I live literally about 150 feet away from the levee and about 200 feet from the Big Muddy River,” said Livesay.

Abbey and her friends have a passion that has caught the attention of their teacher.

“I’m very proud of the students at how they’ve basically seized this project and made it their own,” said Jamie Nash-Mayberry.

The teens are hoping their letters catch the attention of lawmakers, too.

The students are worried the levees near the Big Muddy River might not withstand another flood season.

“It’s kind of scary when the river comes up, too because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Livesay.

Abbey, and several of her friends, drive over the dangerous levee just to get to school every day.

They are worried that if the levee fails, they might not be able to come back to Shawnee High.

“Some of us may complain about being here every day, but the fact of the matter comes down to, this is our school,” said Sophomore Wyatt Hassebrock.

“We all kind of feel like a family, everybody knows each other,” said Sophomore Jornee Brown.

So, they say as a family, they will keep writing until the repairs are made.

The students produced a short film with the help of the Southern Illinois University film department.

It is called ‘Save the Levees, Save The Future’ and it will premiere on Friday at 4:00 p.m. in the school library in Wolf Lake.

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