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Morgan Co. Not Eligible for Federal Flood Aid
Weeks after the river crests, and still a lot of mess in west central Illinois.
"This is one of the bigger disasters that we've had in recent history," Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Patti Thompson said.
Fourty-nine counties have been declared state disaster areas. More than 25 of those counties are on a list of those eligible for federal disaster aid. That money would go to businesses or homeowners affected by the flooding.
Morgan County is not on that list.
Meridosia, which is right along the river in Morgan County, is one of few communities that still has sandbags cushioning its levee. It was only weeks ago when a bucket brigade here patched the fear that water would spill over the top. That effort may be the very reason why homes and businesses were saved.
"We know that it has to be a primary residence, and we look at the impact of first-floor living conditions, and we really just didn't have any of that," Morgan County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency Director Bob Fitzsimmons said.
Mason County is a different story. Despite much of the same efforts, two dozen homes there have major damage. Many others are in need of significant repair.
But just because Morgan County does not have much damage to personal property does not mean the community was spared.
"In some other counties it might just be the local governments that have a lot of expense and maybe it's because of what they did that helped prevent damage," Thompson said.
Those counties are still eligible for federal aid, but it is considered public aid, which reimburses the local government for the money spent to protect the community. Protection like what is still in place in Meredosia.
"It's spring time in Illinois," Fitzsimmons said. "And history has dictated that if we go and clean it up right away, we may be doing the same thing tomorrow. We still have water over roads, there's still traffic problems, there's still road problems that's got to be addressed."
As for the sandbags along the river in Meredosia, those will eventually need to be cleaned up. But the community may need to hire contractors to get the job done. That will only add to the $650,000 tab Morgan County has already racked up in the wake of this storm.
Best-case scenario, communities like Morgan County will get 75 percent of the flood costs they incurred reimbursed by the federal government. The other 25 percent, they will have to find elsewhere.