More waiting and wondering for Flood 2011 victims


Reporter - Kendall Downing

ALEXANDER COUNTY, Ill. - Waiting and wondering how much they'll see. That's what flood victims in Alexander County, Illinois are doing Tuesday night. They'll get some of the nearly $9 million in federal and state funding as part of a buyback program.

However there are lots of hoops to jump through before 167 homes can be purchased and demolished.

The county has to advertise and hire an appraisal company to go in and estimate the values of the homes. After that, the information is subject to state approval. The county engineer anticipates offer letters will go out to homeowners by the summer, and then they'll have thirty days to make a decision.

Recently there was a community push to rebuild homes and relocate Olive Branch above the flood plain, but land deals have fallen through so that idea isn't going anywhere. The county engineer said it would've been an ideal situation, but they are just happy to have the money finally on its way. Now the tough choices lie with homeowners.

"We put our drywall up just halfway," said Shirley Dunn.

Shirley Dunn has spent the last two years flood-proofing her house in case the water comes up again. But now, she's waiting to find out what her buyout amount could be and if it's worth it to go.

"When you get to the age of retirement, and you start thinking how many years you've got left, then you start thinking do I want to spend those last years getting settled again," she said.

Jeff Denny is the Alexander County Engineer. He said the grants will push the recovery forward for individuals.

"A big relief to get over that hurdle," he said.

But as for moving the community of Olive Branch, that's not looking feasible. Land is too expensive, and the right areas are tough to find.

"There's not really a set program for relocating an area or relocating a town, so it's been an uphill battle to get that accomplished," said Denny.

Dunn said even if that plan worked out, she wouldn't want to move.

"We've had years of trying to put things back together again," she said, "It's just like peace and we don't get that too many places on earth."

Those purchase prices for the homeowners will be based on pre-flood values.

The acquisition project in Alexander County would be one of the largest of its kind in Illinois. In addition to Olive Branch, homes in Tamms and Thebes are included.