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Volunteers fill sandbags in Harrisburg on Sunday to protect homes and businesses that were threatened by rising waters.

HARRISBURG — City Council on Thursday celebrated Harrisburg’s success in repelling recent flooding with little damage and no loss of life.

Mayor John McPeek on Friday said that the city was in good shape after several inches of rainfall over the past week caused flooding in the city.

“We have pretty much drained everything, and today have been able to shut off one of the pumps," McPeek said. "If we get more rain, and we need to turn the pumps back on, we can do it in a minute. But for now, things look good.”

McPeek praised employees from the Street and Alley Department, the Water and Sewer Department and the Fire Department, as well as the commissioners, all of whom, he said, stepped forward to fill sandbags and assist those affected by flooding.

“I don’t know that there are enough words to fully express how proud I am and how much I appreciate everyone’s efforts,” McPeek said.

The flooding could have been another disaster for Harrisburg, McPeek said, but the cadre of city employees, citizens and students who stepped up to the plate and worked until everything was done put an end to that possibility.

“It was simply amazing,” he said. “This is what makes me so very proud to live in Harrisburg. This is what it means to be a part of your community. This is what we all can point to and say this is what we’re about.”

The mayor acknowledged Fire Chief John Gunning and Superintendent Kelly Hefner for their efforts during the flooding.

“For those of you who have been on another planet the last few days and haven’t heard, both of these men performed rescues to people who were trapped in their vehicles in flooded areas," McPeek said. "They acted with spontaneous courage and selflessness and they deserve not only our thanks and congratulations but our respect for what they did. We hear about this type of situation on the news in other places but these are our heroes.”

Commissioner Beth Montfort said that about 50 people showed up to fill sandbags, but many more offered support in other forms.

“People brought us cases of water, and one woman who couldn’t help physically brought about 10 pizzas,” Montfort said. She said that Sunday’s response reminded her of the community’s response to the 2012 tornado.

“In times of need, we have good people," she said. "I personally want to thank everybody that helped.”

Commissioner Mike Wierauch also complimented Montfort for her long hours of service on Sunday. Wierauch said that by the time he got to the site where they were filling sandbags, Montfort had things running like a clock.

“All it took was one call to the football coach,” Montfort said. “I have learned that if you get the football team to show up, then the girls will show up.”

She also cited strong response from local churches.

Additional reflection on the flooding came during a discussion among members of the council and Keith Moran, of Moran Economic Development in Edwardsville.

Moran, who consulted with the city on its first Tax Increment Financing District, said the $700,000 in TIF funds that became available during the duration of the project were available for infrastructure projects for the city.

McPeek said that the application of these funds to repair and maintain drains and ditches and other water mitigation infrastructure went a long way toward Harrisburg’s success in managing the recent round of flooding.


On Twitter: @barbeidlin


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