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Businesses, officials prepare to fight flooding on Illinois River

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Emergency Management officials said fighting a flood looks different this time around, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAPLES, Ill. (WGEM) — There's concern along the Illinois River as water starts to rise.

Emergency Management officials said fighting a flood looks different this time around, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inside Evandy's Boatel in Naples, Illinois, St. Patrick's Day decorations linger and the kitchen is empty.

"Today is day 66 since we last served a meal here," Evandy's Boatel co-owner Charlie Evans said.

Into his third month with no business, Evans said employees have been laid off, meat prices are now three times the cost and curbside pick-up didn't make sense at the restaurant.

"Being told by our governor to shut down for what I feel personally is not good enough reasons, is tough," Evans said.

The closure has been hard enough and when you look out the window at the river, things aren't getting any better.

"They're talking you can reopen outdoor seating May 29, which we're set up perfectly for," Evans said.

"However, the flood would prevent us from doing that."

Scott County Emergency Management Director Justin Daws said the rising Illinois River concerns him.

"We're about one rain away from a catastrophe and we've got rain in the forecast for the weekend," Daws said.

He said the Illinois National Guard will come to town Friday to assist with flood efforts. When it comes to fighting a flood during this pandemic, he said they're going to have to make adjustments.

"We're trying to spread everybody out on the levees as much as possible," Daws said.

"Instead of us all working in bigger groups like we usually do, we'll probably section off into smaller groups."

Evans said although used to fighting floods, it's tough to do amid months of lost revenue.

"We don't know what we'll be able to do yet," Evans said.

"We're going to be alright, but people don't realize how bad it is."

Daws said they are prepared to sandbag if they need to.

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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