Illinois flood cleanup continues without FEMA assistance

The floodwaters have dried up, leaving behind a gap in the Len Small levee and in funding to fix the destruction.

Missouri received FEMA assistance after hitting its $8 million threshold. But, despite nearly twice the damage, Illinois was denied after falling short of its $18 million benchmark.

This has forced people affected by the New Year’s flood to get creative with their recovery.

FEMA’s decision to withhold assistance may have come as a shock to some, but local farmer Wade Pecord says he’s not surprised.

"It’s kind of always been that way,” said Pecord. “It’s real frustrating now, because there’s so much sand on everything and there’s no levee. We’re kind of two weeks away from a flood at all times."

Pecord isn’t alone in his frustration.

Without any state or federal funding trickling in, Alexander County Highway Engineer Jeff Denny says he feels like he’s fighting a losing battle.

"We’ve got waterlines that were washed out, and we’ve got roads, and those are probably the two big things right now,” said Denny. “FEMA would’ve helped pay for some of those costs."

Without the resources necessary to rebuild roads, Denny has had to use the sand washed in by the flood water to try and reconnect houses to the outside world. However, he says what frustrates him the most is FEMA’s double standard when handing out funds.

"The counties across in Missouri were hit by basically the same storm, same event, and because of their population they’re declared,” said Denny.  “We’re right across the river, and we’re not."

While legislators ask FEMA to reconsider their assessment system, farmers like Pecord say they don’t expect things to ever be the same.

"It’d take me 20 years to clean this up," said Pecord.

IEMA spokeswoman Patti Thompson says the state has 30 days to appeal FEMA’s decision, but they must show a change in their damage assessment to be considered.

Thompson says it’s too early to tell if an appeal will be filed.

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