Community donations help city buy new flap gate

A generous anonymous donation is covering a new flap gate for Brookport, Illinois.                                       

Right now, whenever water levels rise in the Ohio River, Brookport has a temporary fix to help protect the community.

Brookport Mayor John Klaffer and Alderman Tom Souders donated $500 each earlier this year and challenged others to raise money to help get that new flap gate.   

“We have had some other people step up, had some farmers that don’t even live in Brookport from outside of town donating money,” Souders said.

Souders says it’ll cost roughly $24,000 to complete, which seems a lot to raise, but an anonymous donation of around $11,000 is providing relief.

“(It’s) identical to the one that was originally on the floodwall in 1940, which worked all those years. It should make for a good fit. It should eliminate the flood problems for now,” Souder said.

Robert Wright, who moved to Brookport two years ago, is thankful for this large donation.

“Very generous of this person to help us out in the best way they can,” Wright said.

He says the current solution is a concern to him, in part because he has an 8-month-old baby.

“Yeah, with the baby now and stuff I’d be scared it could flood our house out,” Wright said.

Sandbags are helping keep a broken sluice gate working. Souders says this solution has gotten through two floods, but he’s grateful the large donation will provide a fix for about 40 years.

The new flap gate will be 6 feet wide and automatically when water levels get too high it.

Souders says it should arrive late this month or next, and the city is still welcoming any donations. 

“We have enough to fix it right now, but not really shape it up and get it into the shape it needs to be done. We are taking baby steps. We are going to do this first: get the gate fixed, and go from there,” Souders said.

The city hopes Delta Regional Authority can help cover the rest of the flap gate repair costs. Aside from the flap gate, they need money for a new liner that the pipes use and rerouting the canal to stop debris build up.

Souders hopes a new flap gate will re-certify their levy with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He says that could change the floodplain zones where people are required to have flood insurance.

Souders eventually hopes to find funding to replace pipes under the levy, which would be a 100-year fix, but he says it’ll cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

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