Sen. Durbin Visits as Area Prepares for Flood Recovery

Jan 6, 2016

Residents and emergency officials in flood-stricken  Randolph and Alexander counties got the chance to meet with U-S Senator Dick Durbin Wednesday. 

At the  packed Horseshoe Lake Community Center in Olive Branch Durbin was asked when the county could expect  help from Washington.

"And I can't predict that the Feds are gonna come to the rescue here.  What we're going through now is an assessment to determine how much damage was done to public infrastructure.  Damage not covered by insurance.  I believe the threshold is 18 million dollars. . .unless we hit that number, then we're not gonna quality for certain levels of federal assistance.  Other things maybe yes"

Durbin clarified what is needed to receive Federal Disaster Dollars.

"The way they calculate eligibility for federal disaster assistance is based on a statewide basis.  How much damage you need based on a state like Illinois, with our population.  Well that includes Chicago, Cook County.  A lot of areas far away from southern Illinois."

Durbin said  assessments are now  being conducted, and once the damage to public infrastructure, which is NOT covered by insurance,   reaches 18 million dollars, the area is eligible to receive Federal dollars.

Flood victims throughout southern Illinois are urged to get damage estimates to their local emergency management offices as quickly as possible so the information can be turned over to the state to seek federal aid.

The Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers continue to recede in Jackson County.

Officials say the county's emergency declaration expired Tuesday night and officials will not be seeking an extension. They lifted the evacuation recommendation Wednesday morning.

If assistance is needed in moving back or if you would like to volunteer to assist with the move back, call the Jackson County Volunteer Coordinator at 618-534-9212.

If you had put your house on special patrol with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, please notify them as you return home.

There have been 38 slides identified on the Big Muddy and Mississippi River levees.  Portions of the levee roads will continue to be closed to traffic.

That's why as the floodwaters recede and victims prepare to return to their property, a local health official says make sure it's safe.

Bart Hagston is the environmental health director for the Jackson County Health Department.

"Some roads are not passable, or only partially passable. It doesn't take very much water to drag a car off of the roadway and become a very dangerous situation. So, we remind people of the adage of 'Turn Around, Don't Drown.' That's the number one thing."

Hagston says people need to avoid the disaster after the disaster by being cautious and not assuming everything will be the same as they left it.

"Making sure there's no downed power lines, that natural gas lines are intact. There's the potential for animals that have been displaced by floodwaters, including poisonous snakes, to get pushed out of their natural habitat and into other areas."

Hagston says floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals, so keep children and pets out of it. He says those who do have to go through it need to protect themselves from potential diseases.

He says anyone needing technical assistance in disinfecting a water well or inspecting a sewage system can call their local health department.