firsthand the havoc flooding creates for people, property, communities and
infrastructure in December and early January, after the Midwest experienced
several days of heavy rain. Rivers became lakes, levees broke, property and
infrastructure were severely damaged or wiped away, and worse, several people
While our area
dodged much of the heavy rain that caused these floods, it’s not a matter of
“if we will have another flood,” but “when we will have another flood.”
The state of Illinois has the largest collection of inland bodies of water and
rivers in the continental United States. Twelve percent of surface in Illinois
is mapped as a flood plain. My 38th Senate District, which
stretches from Bureau County on the west to Will County on the east, has about
130 miles worth of river frontage, one of the most in the state. Ottawa alone
is the watershed for 12,000 square miles.
serious and it requires a serious approach to prevent losses of property,
infrastructure and life. Several years ago, a number of communities along the
Illinois and Fox Rivers lived the hardships that come with severe flooding.
Many of our neighborhoods, businesses and infrastructure were destroyed. The
Morris Hospital had to close. Thousands of lives were impacted, property was lost,
tokens of precious memories were gone forever, and infrastructure had to be
rebuilt. The flood in 2013 cost LaSalle and Grundy Counties alone more than
That’s why after
that flood, my office teamed up with local leaders across the 38th
Senate District and started the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance
(IVFRA). The IVFRA brings communities, local governments, and emergency
personnel together to prepare for extreme weather events, especially floods,
through education, communication, and the purchasing of flood prevention
materials. The IVFRA includes LaSalle, Grundy, Bureau, and Putnam counties. The
IVFRA already has good resiliency plans in place right now for the region. The
IVFRA is also hoping to soon secure grant funding for communities to help
prevent flood losses.
Towns in my
district have also been working on flood damage prevention ordinances that
would fit their specific needs. As a direct result of the IVFRA, there are also
now 24 new Certified Floodplain Managers in my district.
The IVFRA is
already receiving statewide and national exposure – first, from the Illinois
Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management, and also from the
Association of State Flood Plain Managers. The City of Ottawa also received
$25,000 in the “Solutions Search” national contest seeking ways to reduce the
risk of weather-related disasters in communities, especially flooding.
All this is proof
that our efforts in the 38th District, particularly the IVFRA, are
doing great things and can be a model for other river communities. Having local
flood-fighting experts, the newest flood-fighting materials, and having each
community on the same page will go a long way the next time rivers start to
rise. It will also save local governments, municipalities and people a lot of
The goal is
simple: be prepared now and know how to properly fight flooding, so when our
next flood occurs, we can save lives, property, homes and infrastructure.
I am very happy
our communities are taking a proactive approach, so we can prevent what
happened in 2013.
– State Senator Sue Rezin