2019 Sandbaging

Marilyn “Hag” Crips, left, works with her cousin, Angel Cripps, to fill sandbags in June in Grand Tower.

The deadline for local governments, nonprofits and houses of worship to apply for federal assistance related to spring flooding and severe weather is Saturday, according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. But because the federal deadline falls on a weekend, IEMA said it’s critical that applications are received by Friday.

The deadline is non-negotiable: Those who fail to meet the deadline will forfeit any chances for reimbursement for flood-fighting expenses.

That’s why the agency is making a final push to remind any stragglers to fill out and turn in the required paperwork ASAP.

“This funding opportunity doesn’t come along that often and we want to make sure our communities take full advantage of these federal dollars,” acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said in a prepared statement. Local jurisdictions can be reimbursed for up to 75% of eligible costs.

In Southern Illinois, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a “public assistance” reimbursement for Alexander, Union, Jackson and Randolph counties; they were among a combined 27 Illinois counties approved for public assistance.

Under the program guidelines, local jurisdictions can be reimbursed for up to 75% of eligible costs. That includes things like debris removal, emergency response and restoration of infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and buildings. The vast majority of eligible governmental bodies have turned in their paperwork, said IEMA spokeswoman Rebecca Clark.

But IEMA is especially trying to get the word out about the deadline to nonprofits and houses of worship that may not realize they are eligible for federal assistance. “Remember that just because your facility wasn’t touched by floodwaters doesn’t mean your organization wasn’t impacted by these historic floods,” Tate-Nadeau said. Expenses eligible for reimbursement that are most likely to pertain to churches and nonprofit are those related to opening a shelter out of harms way, or other types of assistance provided to flood victims, both financially and by staff.

Jackson County has submitted an application for $7.1 million in financial assistance, said Orval Rowe, deputy coordinator for the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency.

Of that amount, about $200,000 is to reimburse the county for direct flood-fighting expenses, namely overtime for emergency management and law enforcement personnel that aided with sandbagging, levee patrols and other coordinated responses.

Almost half of the request is for the repair of Front Street in Grand Tower, Rowe said. It has been left damaged by sinkholes and collapsed storm drains. Without the federal assistance, the county would not be able to fund the repair to the main thoroughfare through Grand Tower, he said. “That’s the biggest reason why we needed the help from the feds,” he said.

The federal assistance approval is specific to governmental bodies, nonprofits and houses of worship. It was approved because damages across 27 counties in Illinois exceeded the collective $19.2 million that made them eligible for assistance.

Homeowners and businesses are not eligible, as the state’s request for “individual assistance” related to historic flooding along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers was denied by FEMA. In a late September letter to the state, FEMA Associate Administrator Jeff Byard said federal officials “determined the impact to individuals and households from this event is not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation.”

In a news release last month, IEMA said the state of Illinois disagrees, and will appeal the decision. “Illinois’ proud and cherished river communities have experienced an unprecedented tragedy at the hands of Mother Nature,” Tate-Nadeau said. “They deserve the resources that will allow them to rebuild and thrive.”

Rowe said that seven homes in Jackson County suffered flood damage.

Several homes in Alexander County also were damaged, especially in and around East Cape Girardeau and McClure. 

Some people in East Cape Girardeau were not able to return home at all, said Village President Joe Aden. In August, the village voted to condemn a mobile home park, several homes, the campground and the Sugar Shack restaurant. Aden said that while it’s comforting to know the village will receive federal assistance for flood-related damage, including to its Village Hall, it's frustrating that FEMA did not approve individual assistance. “We had homes that sustained real damage to their property” Aden said. “We need it. There’s a definite need for it.”

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On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​


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