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Vote To Delay Flood Maps “Good News”, But Challenges Remain

Brian Kelly
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(KMOX)-The man leading the effort to upgrade the metro east levee system says US House passage of bill giving the region more time to get the job done is “good news”, but  he’s warning that it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District executive Les Sterman expects the Senate and President Obama to sign off on the bill, which delays the implementation of new flood maps for five years.  Those maps, if issued before levee repairs are made, would require more home and business owners to buy flood insurance and increase premiums.

The district’s $161 million dollar levee upgrade plan is expected to take just under five years, if it starts on time. Sterman is concerned that the Corps of Engineers’ permitting process could throw off the timetable, “If we’ve got to spend two years in endless reviews, here and in Washington and other places, and lots more analysis simply to demonstrate the obvious, that could add a lot of time to the project and bust our budget and our timeschedule.”

The Corps is promising to help expedite the process, but Sterman says he’s seen no action on that yet.  He is hopeful pressure being applied by the metro east’s congressional delegation will help.

The levees in question protect Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties.

Meanwhile, some FEMA’s decertification of the levee system has already had a major impact on the region. Check back tomorrow for more on that story.

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