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Levee Decertification Has Hurt Region’s Economy

Brian Kelly
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EDWARDSVILLE, Il (KMOX)-Even if the Senate and President Obama sign off on the bill that would delay the implementation of new flood maps for five years, FEMA’s decertification of the metro east’s levees has already caused irreparable harm to the region’s economy.

That’s according to Southwestern Illinois Leadership Council Executive Director Patrick McKeehan. McKeehan says FEMA’s declaration four years ago, that the levees didn’t even exist,  scared off some businesses that were going to build and bring jobs to the region, “They literally were ready to locate in the American Bottoms, and when their risk managers started looking at this information they basically informed them, ‘we cannot provide you insurance or that insurance would be so high this wouldn’t be a good business decision’ and we’ve lost those opportunities.”

McKeehan says there’s no way to know how many companies never even got that far, because of the questions surrounding the flood insurance premiums. He says he’s also heard that other regions are using those questions against the metro east, when competing for businesses.

The Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council has approved a $161 million plan to upgrade the levees within the next five years. It is still waiting for the Corps of Engineers to issue permits so the work can begin.

McKeehan says even with those plans, and the possible delay in flood map implementation, it will take time to convince current and prospective businesses, that they can afford to build or stay in the bottoms.

He says he knows of one business already in the bottoms, who’ve been told their flood insurance premiums could increase by $1 million a year!

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