Ill. residents meet with FEMA on levee requirements

The levee in Prairie du Rocher was accredited, but federal standards changed after Hurricane Katrina.

PRAIRIE DU ROCHER, ILL. - Prairie du Rocher residents met with FEMA representatives about the future of the historical Illinois town's levee on Wednesday at the American Legion Hall. The levee was previously accredited, but federal standards changed after Hurricane Katrina. Now, the village has to recertify it and that comes at a cost.

"The good news is we have the $62,000," levee district commissioner Steve Gonzalez said. "The local people really came through for us and we really appreciate it and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts."

Although some progress has been made, they say the next part of the problem is paying for work needed for an engineering study.

"The completion of this will be one step closer to maintaining our certification," village president Raymond Cole said.

"Time is of the essence here because we're going to have to get things lined up so we can get this done before the March 2017 deadline," Gonzalez said.

"I think their hard work and their efforts hopefully will be rewarded in the fact that the [Corps of Engineers] and FEMA will work together to give them a little more time," State Rep. Jerry Costello (D) said.

FEMA spokesperson Dan Shulman says the deadline is flexible.

"Even after the March timeframe, the community can still provide us additional information and if the information comes back that says this levee is in great condition, provides the protection that it needs to provide per the code of federal regulations, we can make that information represented on the map," Shulman said.

It's an ongoing process, but some people in town are worried because if the levee doesn't get recertified, flood insurance rates would rise.

"So it would be a slow death but primarily it would be a death of the town, which is a shame because you've got a village that has been here for almost 300 years," Cole said.



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