Officials praise local efforts
The Illinois Dept of Natural Resources congratulated Watseka and local officials in the efforts to assist flood victims. The DNR’s deputy-director, Rachel Torbet, told a gathering at Watseka City Hall “the vision, dedication and persistence in providing flood help is paying off.”
The DNR mitigation chief, Ron Davis, delivered details about a $5.3 million grant program. It’s a voluntary program that allows for the acquisition and demolition of 65 structures located in the floodplain. Flood victims attended a meeting where an overview of the buy-out process was explained and the guidelines laid out.
The program is voluntary; owners are not required to participate but those choosing not to sell, will be required to elevate their homes at their own expense.
A city-hired appraisal company will determine what appraisals will provide dollar-wise. Grant monies will buy-out the property which will no longer will be used for construction in the future.
Davis said other communities have benefitted from the past buyouts and flood insurance programs that restrict any new building in the floodplain. He added, it’s an opportunity for flood victims to recoup and avoid future problems. Davis also thanked local officials for their hard work.
Former mayor Bob Harwood is serving as the buyout project manager. Eric Morales is the go-to guy for appraisals. The First Trust & Savings Bank is financing the project to help cover up-front costs.
Mayor John Allhands stresses that this is a 100% refundable program. Allhands called it “a good day, a good start at putting some money in some people’s pockets.”