Residents say they feel neglected by state during flood emergency

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For the village of Florence, Illinois, residents said they feel neglected after receiving no help from the state, in terms of sandbagging efforts.

Now, they’re seeing the impact flooding is having on their area.

“Are we happy about it? No,” Florence Mayor Nancy Kurpaitis said. “Have they hurt our village? Yes. Do they care? Good question. I’d like to know that myself.”

Residents in Florence are dealing with homes submerged by water and the uncertainty of the main road through town staying open.

Kurpaitis said this year’s flood is different than previous ones.

“We’ve already lost one resident who isn’t going to come back,” Kurpaitis said. “Four others have been displaced, and we’re hoping that the houses will be ready to be moved into when the water goes down, where they can fix it. We’ve all paid the price down here.”

That’s why Illinois Senator Dick Durbin stopped in Winchester, Illinois, Saturday to address problems like the ones residents in Florence are dealing with. He said he’s been working with FEMA and other agencies to ensure safety.

“We face this natural disaster as a community, as a state, as a region, and I think the results have been dramatically better than expected,” Durbin said. “But there’s work to be done. Not just during the flood, but after it. What are we going to do to repair these levees for the next challenge because if I were a betting man, this won’t be the last time we see a flood in this area.”

Kurpaitis said usually the town knows how to deal with the high water, but said this year the river came with other challenges.

“The National Guard has been building a wall of China here in Central Illinois and that Great Wall of China is now affecting us in this town,” Kurpaitis said. “They had to know water was going to go somewhere and if it’s not going to go east, it’s going to go west.”

She said the only thing she can do is wait for the water to go down and then start the clean up.

“Take what we’re given and work with it and pray that we can get out of it safely,” Kurpaitis said.

Kurpaitis said she has already ordered nine Red Cross cleaning buckets for when the water goes down. She said the water in many residents’ basements is up to the main level of their houses, so she’s doing everything she can to help them move back in.

 

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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