Brookport homeowners struggling for approval to rebuild


Reporter - Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

BROOKPORT, Ill. - Nearly three months after a deadly tornado tore through the Brookport, Illinois, residents are continuing to struggle to rebuild their homes. Many planning to replace the mobile home they lost are finding that is not as easy as it sounds.

Homeowners need city council approval before they can replace their damaged mobile home. There are structural and space requirements and the council is requiring homeowners to have proof that their house will meet those requirements.

Despite all of the approval coming from Brookport City Council Members, only three out of seven homes were approved to move back to town. The rest were put on hold.

Council members agree they want residents back, but a city ordinance, state guidelines, and FEMA rules are making it difficult for homeowners to get the approval they need.

"These people need their home and he needs it now. We done said this other man can bring in two mobile homes, and it ain't brand new," said Kathy Tucker, Brookport City Councilman.

People like Dalena Varcel, who will have to return later because she didn't have the proper measurements document for her home. That means she'll have to go back and gather the needed information and try again.

After these seven homes were discussed, councilman Larry Call asked for a workshop to discuss a unified housing ordinance that he said would level the playing field.

Councilman Edgar Martin said he wants the ordinance revised and approved by March so the city can start applying for rebuilding grants. His argument is that if people can wait, they might qualify for a grant which would provide free labor to rebuild their houses, and more would be able to build permanent structures instead of more mobile homes.

The council will revisit homes that were tabled in Tuesday night's meeting at 7:00 p.m. on February 21st. Residents will have to have all of their updated information by then in order to be considered.