Flood cleanup and damage assessment continue in Alexander County
Water is still pouring in to Alexander County, Illinois, through a breach in the Len Small levee. County officials say it’s leaving roads underwater still, with no flood relief in sight until water levels on the Mississippi River go down.
"Where we expect the most damage is still underwater, so mostly we don’t have a handle of what’s going on yet," said Jeff Denny, Alexander County engineer.
Many people living in places like Olive Branch and Hodges Park say the cold and snow are making it that much harder to continue, but it’s not the only challenge.
"It’s just, frustrating,” said Jean Ratliff, a Hodges Park resident cleaning up her flooded home.
It’s cleaning up all over again for Ratliff. Her home is still waterlogged, with floorboards warped from the New Year’s flood. Monday, it’s that much harder packing up belongings in the cold and snow, no heat to be turned on in her flooded home.
She says it’s been devastating, but it’s nothing compared to 2011.
"This time, I was fortunate that I didn’t get my furniture lost. Last time, I lost everything,” she said.
Cleaning up the mold and floodwaters remaining in her home, she says she can’t believe this is happening again. She says she’s a part of the FEMA buyout that would elevate her home out of the flood’s path. But the money she was promised never came. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office said Monday this is because the legislature has not yet appropriated the funds for it.
Ratliff says she’s not looking for someone to blame. She’s looking for action.
"I don’t want to sound critical, but someone needs to take action on what’s not been done,” Ratliff said.
She says she believes if she’d gotten the money the state had owed her to elevate this house above flood levels, the waters wouldn’t be here today.
"I’m tired of living with ‘I don’t know’," she said.
Without any answers as to what happens next, Ratliff is spending her days cleaning up and packing up the remains of her home, wondering what she’ll do next.
When asked Monday about the future for homes like Ratliff’s that have not received the money from the FEMA buyout, the governor’s office said in a statement, “The governor sympathizes with those who have been affected by the floodwaters. This project was included in the governor’s introduced budget, but it was apparently not a priority for the Democratic majority because it was left out of their budget."