Crews assess damage in Alexander County, but flood victims skeptical of help

As families clean up what remains of their homes, crews from FEMA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency are out assessing the damage in Alexander County.

While many in the area are hoping FEMA makes a federal disaster declaration, one woman is skeptical of getting help like she did in 2011.

"It’s very frustrating.” Jean Ratliff says. She says she’s sick of the flooding. "I’m just at a point where I don’t know that I can go on,” she said.

Taking FEMA and IEMA crews through her home for the second time in five years, Ratliff’s home is a shell of what it was just a few years back. She was supposed to have her home elevated through a FEMA agreement in 2011, but that money never came. Now she and her home are under water.

"Before that, I had no mortgage. Everything was paid for. Now I have a mortgage and nothing to show for it,” Ratliff said.

Without the money from the 2011 flood aid program, she says she’s unsure of what the crews out assessing the damage can actually help her with.

"It’s unique this time. It’s not like ,’Wow! The flood came in and got me!’ It’s ‘Why wasn’t I helped before?’" she asked.

Patti Thompson with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is out assessing the damage around Alexander County and the nine others hit by the new year’s flood. They’re working to see if there’s enough damage here for a disaster declaration. She says what they’re seeing at Ratliff’s and other homes is extreme.

"Definitely a lot of impact. You know, people are still dealing with the effects, even though the flood waters went down several weeks ago,” Thompson said.

Ratliff says she hopes it’s enough to see that she and others in the area get the help they’re owed. "If, when they elevate the house, we’re going to move back here,” she said. She says she hasn’t been able to sleep in her home at all this year, but she hasn’t given up the idea of coming back home.

IEMA says people like Ratliff still waiting for their FEMA buyout or FEMA assistance can apply for federal funding again if a disaster declaration is made. Those decisions, they say, will be approved on a case by case basis.

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