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LaHood talks levee improvements with residents, officials

U.S. Congressman Darin LaHood visited a levee system along the Illinois River in Scott County to meet with local drainage district officials and residents about improving the levees on Monday.

Across the river, resident Doug Daniel said while the water was never high enough to reach his home in Florence, he and his wife haven’t stayed in their house for over a week now because the flood water covers their way in.

“We decided to just stay in town but just down here today checking it out to make sure the house is okay. Starting to see a little bit of the road up the way there,” said Daniel.

Across the river the president of the Big Swan Drainage District, Corey Brown, said dredging the river more often and raising this levee could help minimize the flood impact

“There’s a lot of valuable farmland, buildings, homes,” said Brown. “There’s a lot of homes down here. You know, we’re not just protecting dirt for the most. We are trying to protect people’s homes and livelihoods at the same time.”

Which is why Congressman Darin LaHood came to Scott County Monday. He said he plans to find ways to fund improvements to the levee system.

“That’s something that I don’t think a lot people realize,” said LaHood. “This isn’t a lot of federal dollars that’s going to be involved. Let’s let the locals decide how to do that. We in Washington D.C. have to give them that authority.”

Meahwhile, residents like Daniel said they’re anxious for the water to go back down so they can get back to normal life.

“You know when you’re having to boat out, it’s a little frustrating but when you live along the river, you just deal with it and hopefully it will get better,” said Daniel.

LaHood said the millions of dollars being spent on the LaGrange Lock and Dam up river is a good sign that they could secure funding to improve this levee but for now, those that live here will have to continue to sandbag.

Brett Knese

Multi-Media Journalist at WGEM News.

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