People still living in flood-damaged buildings


Reporter - Kendall Downing

ALEXANDER COUNTY, Ill. - A local community is still feeling the effects of a catastrophic flood, two and a half years later. It was May 2011 when floodwaters ravaged the local area. One of the places hardest hit was Olive Branch, Illinois in Alexander County.

In March of 2013, the state of Illinois announced a massive buyout program for home and business owners looking to move out of the floodplain. The process is moving slowly, and some people are living in structures damaged by the flood.

Horseshoe Lake Motel is home for a local woman and her family.

"Honestly, it's unsafe. It's unsafe for anybody to be living there. The floors are falling in," said the woman.

She asked us to hide her identity.

She said her family's lived at the motel on Illinois Route 3 for about six months, a facility unrepaired since Flood 2011.

The woman said the conditions are filthy, and the building is falling apart.

"I don't think it should be right. I don't think it should be right to let people live in a building that's in that condition," she said.

But according to FEMA and Alexander County, there's nothing illegal about occupying a flood-damaged building or charging people to stay there. The property owner said she's waiting on the appraisal process to complete her buyout, then she's gone.

Even though the motel building is considered substantially damaged by FEMA, an agency spokesperson told Local 6 that designation can't condemn the property. It must come at the local level, and the county engineer said the building was not condemned.

"I think they should've torn it down right after the flood," said the resident.

The property owner told Local 6 people who move in are aware of the condition of the rooms. The woman whom you saw in our story said she and her family can't afford a nicer place to live.

As for the buyout process, the county engineer said 20 appraisals have been completed, and 140 remain.