Durbin, Kirk, Costello, Shimkus Request Meeting with Army Corps of Engineers to Discuss Plans for Metro East Levee Upgrade

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–July 1, 2011.  U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Congressmen Jerry Costello (D-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) today requested a meeting with the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, to discuss a plan to upgrade the levee systems in Metro East, Illinois and concerns from the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council about securing approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Illinois Members wrote: “While we want to ensure appropriate steps are taken in preparation for the flood protection system repairs, including proper permitting required by the Army Corps, ultimately we want to see the people and property of Metro East protected.  We would appreciate the opportunity to sit down with you to discuss the plans for Metro East.”

Last week the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council released a 5-year, $161 million plan to upgrade the levee systems in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties to the 100-year flood protection standard.   This upgrade would further protect the region in the event of a major flood and prevent residents and businesses from having to pay increased flood insurance premiums when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s new Flood Insurance Rate Maps from taking effect.  Approval by the Army Corps of Engineers is required for work on the levees to move forward.

In March, at the urging of Congress, FEMA announced its decision to end its practice of using the “without levee” designation – a policy of disregarding some levees and flood control structures in its process of update Flood Insurance Rate Maps.  Previously, in cases where FEMA treated a flood control structure as if it has been completely wiped off the map, they may have been unnecessarily devaluing property and hurting the economies of cities, towns, counties and businesses.

Durbin, Kirk, Costello and Shimkus have been working together with federal, state and local officials to prevent residents and businesses from facing unreasonably high flood insurance rates while ensuring they are financially protected in the event of a flood.  Previously, in response to a 2008 request from Durbin and Costello, FEMA agreed to prevent Illinois residents and businesses from facing significantly higher flood insurance premiums years before their Missouri counterparts.  This move leveled the playing field in the St. Louis region and ensured that FEMA’s new flood maps would not take effect on the Illinois side of the Mississippi before the Missouri side.

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Source: durbin.senate.gov