Damage assessments begin as evacuations lifted

Evacuation notices have been lifted in Union and Jackson counties in Illinois, giving the all clear for people to return home for the first time in over a week.

As Michael Feaman began the process of moving furniture back into his house, he says he can’t help but feel relieved.

"There was water raised up just along the roadway here coming into town from seepage and rainwater, and it was just really nice that nothing happened," said Feaman.

Not everyone was as fortunate as Feaman.

Jackson County Emergency Manager Derek Misener says the  county is just now starting to get a sense of how much damage was done.

"The most devastated areas are really just now starting their damage assessments," said Misener. "One of the things with flooding is you don’t really know if a road is ruined until the water goes down."

Misener says it’s crucial that people report any damage because the state of Illinois has to hit an $18 million damage threshold to receive any assistance from the federal government. He says while that may not seem like a lot now, during the next flood it could keep the water in the rivers and out of your town.

"Typically, we look to recover 75 percent of our cost to response, and 75 percent of our damage, but that still leaves us 25 percent out of pocket," said Misener. "Nobody budgets for that."

"If they don’t fix that Big Muddy levee and we have a heavy rain in the spring, I don’t think the Big Muddy levee is going to make it," said Feaman.

That’s why Misener says levee improvements and a new flood gauge are needed before the water rises again.

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