OTTAWA, IL – State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said the message was clear from the Feb. 12 meeting of local government officials on flooding: planning for future flooding is more important now than ever.
The meeting, spearheaded by Sen. Rezin and the first of its kind, drew over 60 local government representatives who heard from several speakers, including Paul Osman, the Floodplain Program Manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Osman warned that flooding would only get worse in the future and steps to mitigate damage should be taken now.
The purpose of the meeting was to encourage local government officials to take a comprehensive regional approach to flood planning.
Sen. Rezin noted during the meeting that major rivers are no longer the only threat of flooding and it is imperative for the entire region to prepare now for the future.
“Due to development and growth upstream, creeks and smaller rivers have become a huge liability now in addition to the major rivers,” Sen. Rezin said. “Last spring, we saw substantial damage along the Illinois River and Fox River as well as damage to communities that were along creeks and tributaries. That’s why it was important to invite all officials from the 38th Senate District to engage in this discussion, and I’m pleased that so many of them came to the meeting.”
Attendees heard from Mike Sutfin, a certified floodplain manager and Ottawa building official who was instrumental in implementing a flood control program in the City of Ottawa. He shared the success of the program in Ottawa that had just recently been implemented before last spring’s rain created record flooding in the area. Despite the record flooding, the city sustained minor damage.
After learning about the success of Ottawa’s program, Sen. Rezin was impressed and felt that the information should be shared with all local government officials in her district in order to better prepare for future flooding.
Sutfin said Ottawa was able to avoid the kind of flood damage other areas experienced last spring due to three steps. First, the city joined the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management which provided the city with a wealth of information and data. The city then had one city worker – Sutfin – become a certified floodplain manager. Sutfin mentioned it was important that cities have someone who is able to read a floodplain map and manage a flood-control program. Lastly, the city participated in a rating program to get city residents flood insurance at the cheapest possible rates.
Sen. Rezin and Sutfin now want to add a fourth step to the program and have the entire area work together to implement the same procedures to protect everyone in the flood zone.
At the end of the meeting, Sen. Rezin asked how many of the city officials would be interested in joining such a coalition committed to flood control in the region. Every hand went up.
Sen. Rezin was pleased and highly encouraged by the meeting and hopes that it is a strong first step towards ensuring better preparation for flooding and the protection of buildings and lives in the area. She also noted that more meetings would be held in the future.