Madison County’s local governments had about $10 million in damages due to the massive winter flood — which doesn’t include the losses damage to businesses and residences.
Madison County’s Emergency Management Agency compiled an initial disaster impact assessment for the state as part of a process to receive some disaster reimbursement. Representatives from many Madison County departments and government agencies worked with local officials to get an idea of the flooding costs and damage.
Three days of constant rain in late December led to a massive, sudden flood that nearly reached the level of the historic 1993 flood.
“Because of its location on the banks of the Mississippi River, the city of Alton incurred the greatest expense battling the floods,” said Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan. “But as a result of the sheer volume of rain, extensive flooding occurred trorughout the county, affecting thousands of property owners.”
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In fact, as the river rose, hundreds of volunteers — including Dunstan himself and Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton — converged on Alton’s riverfront to load and stack sandbags in the hopes of staving off the water.
The assessment of flooding costs and damage is “essential” in order for local governments to be reimbursed by the state and federal emergency management agencies, Dunstan said. Those expenses include emergency protective measures, damage to roads and bridges, removal of debris, repairing water control facilities, buildings and equipment, utility systems and repairing parks and recreational areas.
Throughout the county, creeks became raging rivers, lakes breached dams, basements flooded and sewer lines backed up.
Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan
Next, representatives from IEMA will meet with local officials to validate the expenses. Meanwhile, Dunstan is calling on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to ask President Obama for a federal disaster declaration, which could help local governments receive reimbursement up to 75 percent of costs incurred. Residents and businesses impacted by the flood would be eligible for grants and low-interest loans to help repair their damages, Dunstan said.
“Madison County government is doing everything possible to lessen the impact on our communities and ultimately the taxpayers,” Dunstan said. “I am hopeful government officials in Washington (D.C.) will carefully assess the destructive impact of the flooding in our area and will issue a disaster declaration.”
In addition to the government losses, more than 150 businesses and homes were severely damaged and hundreds more properties sustained damage at some level. Dunstan said residents whose property was damaged can apply to have their homes’ value reassessed for tax purposes - something that could affect thousands of taxpayers.
“Throughout the county, creeks became raging rivers, lakes breached dams, basements flooded and sewer lines backed up,” Dunstan said. “Severe flooding and related issues can affect property values.”
Property owners who are interested in having their property reassessed should apply at their local township assessor’s office or the Madison County Assessor’s Office. The forms are also available at the county website.
There is no deadline to submit the request, Dunstan said, but property owners are encouraged to submit it as soon as possible. Additional information can be obtained by visiting the county website or calling the Madison County Assessor at 692-6970.