Iroquois, Vermilion Among 11 More Counties In State Disaster Declaration
Governor Bruce Rauner visted the Iroquois County seat of Watseka Tuesday, on the same day he declared that county and 10 others state disaster areas due to flooding, bringing the total to 23. Watseka Mayor Bob Harwood says he has greater hopes for a federal disaster declaration than he did last summer.
Harwood says the December rains were unusual in that they impacted both the Iroquois River and Sugar Creek, hitting Watseka’s south side nearly as much as the north, which typically more prone to flooding.
As many as 50 people left their homes, but have all returned, many still dealing with flood damages.
Harwood says this marks Iroquois County’s second attempt at getting federal help in six months. Last July, heavy rains forced 400 people from their homes. Harwood says he feels better about the odds now, given that many in southern Illinois had to be evacuated.
“I wish those people no ill will, and I wish them all the best because they got it a lot worse than we do," he said. "But I think that with what we’re seeing down there, and our damage here – if we don’t meet FEMA’s requirements this time, there’s something wrong with the system.”
"The good news is the water has receded now in central Illinois," said Rauner, during his stop in Watseka. "Bad news is, it's still very high in southern Illinois. My primary concern right now is Alexander County; the levees on the Mississippi River, have been breached in five different places. The water's been flowing in pretty aggressively. We've gone door to door, asking people to evacuate."
13th District Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville weighed in on the flood damage Tuesday.
"If the state requests federal assistance, I will do everything I can to urge FEMA to give greater consideration to the localized impact of flooding on our small communities when determining the need for assistance.”
Vermilion and Moultrie counties were also part of the disaster declarations Tuesday, along with Cass, Cumberland, Lawrence, Marion, Menard, Pike, Richland, and Sangamon counties.
Despite the announcement in Vermilion County, Emergency Management Agency Chief Deputy Russell Rudd says the area got lucky this time, with the bulk of flood damage to rural roads west of Danville near Kickapoo State Park and Oakwood, and not in homes.
Danville Public Works Director Doug Ahrens says the worst damage in town was to a sanitary sewer line over Stony Creek. He says the local damage in Danville after heavy rains in June were much worse, and still holds out hope for a federal disaster declaration.
"That did create some roadway problems, we had washouts," he said. "We had some storm sewer failures. And so we’re still awaiting to see if assistance will be provided for those repairs. At that time, our request for reimbursement was between $350-thousand and $400-thousand."
Ahrens says the recent flooding has produced roughly the same amount of damage as the flooding in June, but in a more concentrated area.