Volunteers clean up flood damage in Alexander County

Flood waters are gone, but the damage hasn’t washed away. Volunteers spent Saturday cleaning up flood damage in Alexander County.

Six groups spread out to clean 10 homes through the afternoon. Among the volunteers were members of Southern Illinois Chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon.

Their volunteer chair Katy Brewer says the experience is eye-opening.

“Seeing the peoples’ faces when we come up and knock on the door, they’re so grateful, they’re so friendly, and I’m really excited I got to meet some of the people that I probably wouldn’t of had a chance to either way,” Brewer said.

Delta Phi Epsilon helped clean up Jean Ratliff’s home, which flooded last month. Ratliff says it wasn’t as bad as in 2011 when she got 5 feet of water inside.

“So I’m okay life happens, you live with it, and you trust in God and things are going to be alright,” Ratliff said.

She stays because of her love for the community and countryside.

“I think you’ve seen me in the past being unhappy, but today I’m happy because we have members coming from out of the community and especially these ladies from Delta Phi Epsilon,” Ratliff said.

Brewer says they’re cleaning up to support one of their sisters who grew up here.

“This is her community, her friends and her family, so we were more than willing to come help her,” Brewer said.

Alexander County Board Chair Chalen Tatum said they needed this cleaning day, some kind of help since they didn’t meet the state $18 million damage threshold for FEMA aid.

“It’s not looking very good, and we got a few hundred thousand dollars worth of roads washed out and we won’t get help for that either,” Tatum said.

So for now, the county will rely on volunteer work.

“Pulling those people from outside of the community in, and getting the cohesiveness I guess that we need to get this community back where it needs to be,” Ratliff said.

Chalen says Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is asking the President Obama to consider figuring out a different way to help southern Illinois because the state didn’t meet the FEMA damage threshold.

Church groups and other organizations also provided volunteers with breakfast and lunch Saturday.

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