WASHINGTON, D.C. — The metro-east's federal lawmakers helped defeat a measure Friday to require owners of homes and businesses -- including those in the American Bottoms -- behind structurally sound levees to buy flood insurance.
U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, teamed with U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, and U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, and Mark Kirk, R-Highland Park, to reject the measure.
The proposal was originally part of the National Flood Insurance Program re-authorization bill. Earlier this week, it was attached to a package of measures that includes the transportation bill conference report and a proposal to prevent student loan interest rates from increasing.
"This was a great bipartisan effort to keep this provision from becoming law, which would have penalized areas like ours that are addressing local levee improvements," Costello said.
Les Sterman, the chief engineer for the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council, said he was relieved the lawmakers defeated the flood insurance mandate.
Sterman, who is overseeing $160 million worth of repairs and improvements along 64 miles of levees in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties, said the proposal would've forced every property owner on the flood plain to buy insurance.
"Building codes would be such that it would kill all growth and expansion," he said.
Durbin, in a statement, said the insurance mandate "was dropped into the flood insurance bill with little warning and even less debate."
Durbin pledged to do "everything we can to protect the investment that metro-east families and businesses have made to strengthen their levees and protect against floods."
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