Flood damage declaration due Monday for Illinois

As the water is receding in southern Illinois, the deadline to declare damage from floods is looming. The state has until Monday to declare damage costs. If they don’t equal $18 million dollars Illinois home and business owners do not qualify for any federal aid.

For a small Illinois county like Alexander, flood damage is a big concern to community members like Jennifer Korte.

“It doesn’t have the resources that other counties upstate would have,” Korte said.

Her home is fine, protected by a man-made levy, but worries damage costs of others won’t be enough to qualify for FEMA funding.

“Then this county is sitting here with devastation, pure devastation, and no way to fix it. No way to rebuild the pieces,” Korte said.

Korte says she thinks the deadline to declare damage is too soon. She says she couldn’t even drive in and out of her home until this week.

“It’s hard to put an estimate on that kind of stuff until you know and you can actually get out and see what you have,” Korte said.

Alexander County Board Chair Chalen Tatum says there’s not a lot they can do. He says there’s a ¾ tear in the Len Small Levee that needs fixing before spring showers.

“We are on the disaster list, but the state says they have no money,” Tatum said.

Governor Bruce Rauner visited the county earlier this month. He says not having a state budget isn’t the reason for not being able to help.

“We’ve never had very much in the way of specific funds to put for natural disasters with or without a budget,” Rauner said.

If the state doesn’t add up $18 million in flood damage to qualify for federal funding, for Alexander county Tatum says, then it’ll probably be just up to neighbors to help each other.

Southern Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are helping clean out Paula Kirby’s home among others in the area.

“It’s uplifting to see people that care, that are willing to come help people when they are in a crisis,” Kirby said.

Kirby’s thankful for the help but wishes she could’ve moved before going through another flood. She’s still waiting for a FEMA buyout from flooding in 2011.

Tatum says the Army Corps of Engineer is supposed give a report early next week. It should tell the county exactly how deep the levee break is so they can start looking for ways to cover the cost to fix it.

Tatum says they should know by Monday afternoon how much in damage costs Alexander county declared.He says the state must receive all damage assessments by Monday and then they will then send those reports to the federal government for review.

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