At the end of April, heavy rain across the Midwest resulted in major flooding in communities throughout Illinois. The Rock, Fox, DuPage, Illinois, and Mississippi Rivers overtopped their banks, damaging hundreds – if not thousands – of Illinois homes and businesses.
Two weeks ago, I visited Marseilles to take a firsthand look at the recovery efforts. I was joined by Mayor Patti Smith and Colonel Mark Deschenes, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District, to see the site where the Army Corps is working to repair the damaged Marseilles Dam, which was struck by several barges that broke free of a tugboat during the flooding.
Governor Quinn, the Illinois National Guard, the Army Corps, and emergency officials at every level did a great job in responding to the flooding and keep our communities safe.
Making Critical Investments to Upgrade Our Aging Water Infrastructure
We’ve certainly seen our fair share of extreme weather in the Midwest and along the Mississippi River lately. Despite last month’s flooding, it was only five months ago that the drought that sapped the Midwest caused record low water levels on the Mississippi.
I traveled to see it. I stood on an observation boat in the Mississippi River with a Corps Commander who told me, “Imagine water ten feet over your head right now, that’s where the water levels should be.”
The water was so low it threatened to stop navigation on America’s great commercial artery—the Mississippi River. Thankfully, due to some unexpected rain and good work by the Corp of Engineers, we made it through, but we can’t just sit back and hope that it never happens again.
Instead, I worked with Senator Mark Kirk and Representatives Cheri Bustos, Rodney Davis and Bill Enyart to introduce two bipartisan bills that would help the Army Corps of Engineers and the private sector better respond to low water situations and flooding, like those we experienced earlier this year along the Mississippi River.
Both of those bills were included in the Senate’s Water Resources Development Act – also known as WRDA – which passed last Wednesday with a bipartisan vote of 83-14. You can read more about the legislation and what it does for some important Illinois priorities here:
Disaster Recovery Assistance Information
As of Wednesday, May 22, President Obama has declared twenty-five Illinois counties – Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, McHenry, Will, Bureau, Crawford, Henderson, Knox, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, Peoria, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford – federal disaster areas in response to the flooding on April 18. All twenty-five counties are designated eligible for Individual Assistance funding which provides assistance to individuals and businesses to help with temporary housing, home repairs or replacement and other disaster-related expenses.
Illinois residents and businesses can register for this assistance online at www.disasterassistance.gov or www.fema.gov or by calling between 7 AM – 10 PM ET:
1-800-621-3362 (video relay)
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Sent from the office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin