New Athens, IL (KSDK)-- A small Illinois town is facing a financial crisis and battling FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
New Athens may be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a levee inspection that they say they don't need. Without it though, residents will likely be forced to pay for flood insurance.
"We went through the 1993 flood, 1995 we actually had a higher water level than 1993 and there was no problem then," says Gary Kearns, the Village President.
Many people in New Athens share that same sentiment.
"It's a wonderful levee," says Robert Kearns who should know because his home is the closest to the levee in the village. The levee actually starts in his backyard.
"Federal government needs to take care of it, it's theirs it's not ours," says Robert Kearns.
The locals say it's not their responsibility to maintain the levee because the Army Corps of Engineers built it back in the 1960's keeping the waters of the Kaskaskia River at bay.
Now to get accredited by FEMA, it will cost the village somewhere from $350,000 to $1-million.
"That's probably a lot of money for a medium sized town, let alone a small town," says the village president who explains that they don't have that kind of money lying around, but not getting the accreditation will hurt the residents.
"If they discredit this levee you can take the levee on a floodplain map and take an eraser and erase it, it's like the levee is not even there, even though it's there and it's going to offer protection, FEMA is going to say you don't have a levee," says Gary Kearns.
More than 100 households will be forced to get mandatory flood insurance, which isn't cheap.
"My house would probably cost me an additional $500-700 a year and my out-building would probably cost an additional $1,200," says Robert Kearns.
A little further into town, but still near the levee lives Frank Steinwagner.
"Why should I spend when the levee has been strong for all of this time so why should I have to worry about it," says Steinwagner.
The village president says they won't have to worry about it, somehow FEMA will approve of the structure.
"I for see us getting our levee accredited, somehow we will do whatever we can do to protect the people of the village," says Gary Kearns.
NewsChannel 5 did reach out to FEMA officials, we never got a response.