EAST CAPE GIRARDEAU, IL — Residents of East Cape Girardeau, Illinois, expressed their frustrations to village leaders Tuesday night over how recent flooding has been handled.
They spoke out during the regular village meeting Tuesday night, which was held at the Pit Stop restaurant because the village hall has about 7 inches of water inside. It was the first village meeting since May.
One of the most flood-affected areas of East Cape is the mobile home community. Two months ago, all residents had to evacuate, because the community was surrounded by water.
Heather Fritz, who lives in a mobile home with her 7-year-old son, told East Cape leaders she feels the mobile home community was neglected.
"No military came to help us sandbag — no nothing. It didn't stop sandbagging until it got to the village hall," Fritz said to East Cape Mayor Joe Aden and village trustees. "Nobody came to help us during this time at all."
"And I have personally apologized to you that I was not active at that point in time. I apologize," responded Village Trustee Jason Tubbs.
"Until (the floodwater) got all the way up over here and then everybody pitched in and everybody helped," Fritz continued. "Come on, Mr. Mayor, I mean, I'm curious. You're our mayor. You're pointing fingers at everybody else on the board. You can't answer anything."
"We addressed the situation as best we could," Aden replied.
"You don't care about us!" Fritz later said.
"You're wrong!" Aden answered.
"You got your home to go to, and we don't," said Fritz. "And we don't!"
Another East Cape resident, Ashley Sturm, also expressed her frustrations during Tuesday night's meeting.
"Why did our mobile home park community not get plenty of notice to get their personal belongings out?" Sturm asked. "Why didn't we as a community help them get their belongings out?"
Although the floodwaters at the East Cape mobile home community have since receded, residents say they are now dealing with looting. One man told Local 6 that thieves took apart the air conditioning units at several mobile homes to steal the scrap. He said thieves also took a resident's washing machine. During Tuesday's meeting, a resident talked more about what happened to her AC unit.
She said they took "The aluminum, the condensing cords," but "they left the copper alone."
"But I feel that you all should — when it started coming in that A-frame that faces 146 — I think you all should've gave us a little help," she told the village leaders.
Aden said no one saw the flooding coming.
"I've lived here since 1973, and I've never seen it this bad," he said.
But Village Trustee Marlene Freeman said action should have been taken sooner.
"Everything, everything was a little too late," said Freeman. "Everything."
Alexander County Emergency Management Director Mike Turner said East Cape and other areas will present public damage assessments to FEMA on Wednesday. FEMA officials will then meet in Springfield on Thursday to add the numbers up and see whether counties and the state meet the damage threshold for federal assistance. Turner said the report will then go to FEMA officials in Washington, D.C. If they approve the disaster declaration, it will go to President Donald Trump for his signature. If the disaster declaration is approved, federal funds would be provided to help fix roads, infrastructures and other costs associated with the flood fight.
Turner said after FEMA submits the application for a disaster declaration, they will assess individual homes to see if residents need assistance.