Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance Goes for Major Federal Grant Print Friendly and PDF

Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance Print Friendly and PDF


In 2013, Senator Rezin helped establish the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance (IVFRA). The IVFRA brings communities, local governments, and emergency personnel together to help them prepare for extreme weather events, especially floods, through education, communication, and the purchasing of flood protection materials. The IVFRA originally included LaSalle, Grundy, Bureau, and Putnam counties. It has since added several more. The IVFRA will soon develop a resiliency plan for the region. The IVFRA is also helping secure grant funding for communities to help decrease flood losses.

As a direct result of Senator Rezin’s involvement in forming the IVFRA, there are now 24 new Certified Floodplain Managers in her district.


Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance Updates

IEMA Director visits March 2016 IVFRA Meeting


The meeting was well attended and included many communities throughout the 38th Senate District.

At the opening of the meeting, Senator Rezin introduced Director James Joseph from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.  Mr. Joseph told those in attendance that the Senator would join him at the National Emergency Management forum on April 4, in Washington D.C.  Congressional leaders have expressed an interest learning about the regional alliance.  Mr. Joseph also would like to see this concept duplicated across the State of Illinois.

The first speaker was Mr. Ron Davis, with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.  Mr. Davis administers federal grant funding for the State of Illinois.  He explained the details of the Fiscal Year 2016 Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Grant Program.  He also detailed grant funding available through Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities.  After the meeting Mr. Davis met with several communities to discuss the application process.

Mr. Bryan Martindale with Knight Engineering presented an in depth look at levee accreditation through FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers PL84-99 program.  Many communities have critical facilities levee systems that are inadequate to protect against a major flood event.  The USACE program allows communities to enroll their levee system in the program once approved by the Corps.  If a levee enrolled in the program is damaged during a flood event, the Army Corps will repair the levee with an 80%/20% cost share to the community.  The Corps will pay 80% the community 20%.

Mrs. Carol Hays, executive director of the Prairie Rivers Network gave the last presentation.  She asked the coalition to consider expanding their mission to include watershed management and water quality issues.  Ms. Hays noted that there was foundation funding for large scale efforts, such as the IVFRA.  The 38th district has more than 100 miles of the Illinois River and about 40 miles of the Fox River inside its boundaries. 


Rezin's flooding coalition due national attention (Ottawa Daily Times - March 22, 2016)



Once again there will be a national-level focus on state Sen. Sue Rezin’s Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance.

At the group’s meeting Tuesday at the Ottawa City Hall, James Joseph, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, told the 30-plus alliance members present that he had recruited Rezin to tell about the alliance at a meeting of his counterparts and hundreds of others in the National Emergency Management Association during its April 4 forum.

Rezin’s organization, informally known as the flooding coalition, was organized by her in the wake of the serious regional flooding of April 2013.

Composed of representatives of local governments, agencies and emergency personnel, the coalition decided the best strategy would be to search out and implement ways both to prevent flooding as well as lessen its impact if it does happen.

Since then, two dozen of its members have become certified floodplain managers. The group's quarterly meetings offer information on grants and other funds available for flood control. Also, some member towns have passed and begun enforcing higher regulatory standards, such as prohibiting building in floodplains.

“Passing and enforcing rigorous standards are difficult, but once you start putting a plan in place, then at the end of the day people will see the positive results,” Rezin said.

Joseph explained he learned about the flooding coalition about the same time he received an inquiry from NEMA looking for “best practices” community organizations that were working well and could be considered for duplication elsewhere.

“We presented (the alliance) in a one-page format, and it was like minutes later (NEMA) responded and said ‘Wow, we want to hear about this.’

“Not only do we want to showcase this in Washington, D.C., at a national level, but I’d like to take this and build pockets of this throughout the state of Illinois,” Joseph said. “I mean, here is a great example of something that’s working well. We’re reducing risk to flooding, increasing our response time, and we’re diminishing recovery time when a catastrophic incident happens.

“This is something we want to build and replicate,” he said.

It won’t be the first time Rezin has spoken to a national organization about the flooding coalition. Last year, for instance, she presented to the Association of State Flood Plain Managers’ annual national conference in Atlanta on June 4.

The coalition members also heard from Carol Hays, executive director of the Prairie Rivers Network, an organization that works to protect the state’s navigable waterways and protect water quality.

“So that when we turn on the tap we don’t have to worry about what’s coming out,” she explained.

Hays asked the coalition to consider expanding its mission beyond flooding to include watershed issues and improvement of water quality.

“It’s a more comprehensive approach,” she said.

Hays also was complimentary of the coalition’s progress.

“I was extremely impressed with how you have come together to address the situation that you’re confronted with and try to get ahead of it,” she said.

“You are a model for the state. We hope that others can learn from what you’re doing right now and apply it, too.

“They’re waiting and they’re watching.”


Senator Sue Rezin hosts Grundy County Flood Prevention Meeting (Morris Daily Herald - Feb. 4, 2016)

MORRIS – State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, told Grundy County residents who attended a flood prevention town hall forum Wednesday night how the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance is pulling communities together to work toward flood prevention.



"It's about sharing information about flood management. It's about sharing what we've learned," Rezin said. "This model, the alliance, is about small farm communities with modest means pulling together, and their willingness to make hard decisions about addressing the flooding issues."

A panel made up of Grundy County Chairman David Welter, Grundy County EMA Deputy Director Tom Kulasik, Ottawa building official Mike Sutfin, and Paul Osman, national floodinsurance program coordinator for the Illinois Office of Water Resources, each presented facts about area flooding and how residents can address the issues before opening the floor to a question and answer session.

Rezin said that in the 2012 flood maps, the most recent released, homeowners who weren't previously in a flood plain were finding themselves in one, and were receiving bills for flood insurance, which prompted calls to her office.

"We've had creeks flooding that have never flooded before," Rezin said.

Sutfin, who has been key in addressing Ottawa's flood issues, said these concerns need to be addressed at a local level.

Welter said the meeting was one way to bring Grundy County communities and residents together to look at flood prevention, something he believes needs to be addressed.

"Tonight was a call to action for our local communities to come together and address this issue," Welter said.

Flooding in the City of Morris

Bryan Martindale, principal water resources engineer with Knight Engineers & Architects, said he had looked at the 2012 flood maps and he believes there are issues in the official mapping which stemmed from a 1992 study.

He said the data used is questionable and that data from the East Fork Nettle Creek, which flooded in 2013, was outdated. He said in his opinion, some of the areas currently in a flood plain should not be.

To have the maps changed, a community would have to pay to have a hydrology study done.

Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said after the meeting that is exactly what the city of Morris is working on.

"The city is in the process of looking to do a study with mapping and a hydrology study," Kopczick said. "We've also taken steps to mitigate the flooding."

Kopczick said the city addressed areas hard hit by the 2013 flooding, specifically the area that caused Morris Hospital to have to evacuate patients. He said he feels that area has been fixed and shouldn't see flooding that would affect the hospital again.

Flood insurance discussed

Osman addressed flood insurance and some misconceptions about the flooding that has repeatedly occurred in the area.

"There is no such thing as a 100-year flood. It happens every year in Illinois," Osman said.

He further went on to explain that flood insurance is available to every resident of Grundy County whether or not they live in a flood plain, and for those who do live in a flood plain, there are ways to determine if they should actually be in one.

"If it has four walls and a roof above ground it's insurable," he said. "If your agent tells you that you can't buy flood insurance, you need a new agent."



Flood alliance towns among many waiting for federal funding (Ottawa Daily Times - Dec. 8, 2015)


Members of State Sen. Sue Rezin’s Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance were informed Tuesday by the director of North Central Illinois Council of Governments that a grant competition — which could bring in as much as $55 million to the state — has yet to be decided upon by federal officials.

Executive Director Nora Fesco explained to the flood mitigation coalition at the Ottawa meeting, even though the National Disaster Resiliency Competition is expected to soon dole out $1 billion in grants, that it appears state and federal funding for high water protection projects are drying up.

“While we wait, we are searching for new funding avenues as we move forward,” she said.

The NDRC grants are designed to provide financing and other resources to help communities plan and implement disaster recovery that is more resilient to future threats and improves quality of life.

Fesco said the local share of such an award to Illinois was included with the state’s application.

Marseilles Waste Water Treatment facility superintendent Jason Rix, who is also the city’s certified flood manager, used a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate floods in the town, including the series of events which in April 2013 devastated and sunk whole neighborhoods under river water.

“People thought they were safe,” he said. “At the time, only three homes in the flood area even held a flood insurance policy.”

Since that historic flood, the city has been proactive with its water mitigation plans, Rix said.

“The city recently created a stormwater management fund, removed debris from creek and storm water conveyance systems and had improved and raised levees to new heights for the (possibility) of the next 500-year flood,”

Besides the river flooding, he said, the town also is preparing plans to mitigate flash flooding its high bluffs, which created havoc along streets, homes and businesses earlier this year.

He said, unlike in 2013, Marseilles is now a storm-ready community.

In a similar vein, Tom Kulaski, director of Grundy County’s Emergency Management Agency, detailed the flood history of Morris and the surrounding area.

He said a big problem with flood mitigation work for his and other regions along the Illinois River is how to control what is going on upstream.

“We have no control over that,” he admitted.

Anthony Heddlesten, the Peoria Flood Area Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, explained to coalition members the continuing development of the Corps’ Mobile Information Collection Application for data collection. He asked for more volunteers to consider in helping with that development.

MICA was originated by the Corps of Engineers in response to Mississippi River Valley flooding in 2011. With the app, specially developed cellphones and tablets can be used to transmit “points” — geo-tagged photos, videos, recordings and even sketches — to Corps of Engineers command centers, allowing decision makers to review and analyze critical flood fighting data within seconds.

Ottawa Building Official Mike Sutfin, who has won awards for his flood preparedness work to protect the city, introduced the High Water Mark Initiative program. He said, as part of the National Flood Insurance Program, the HWM Initiative is a community-based awareness program of flood risk and encourages action to mitigate that risks.

He said communities in the HWM program would place signs in prominent places, such as Allen Park, which would illustrate the water level of historic flooding events.

Such educational and awareness efforts would be an aid to building and maintaining community resilience against future flooding.


Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance gets proactive addressing future floods (Morris Daily Herald - Sept. 2015):

MARSEILLES – As the Illinois River rose and water flowed over the Marseilles Dam in 2013, barges slammed into the levee along River Street, causing a breech and the evacuation of hundreds of residents.



Two of those Marseilles residents, Jim Burns and his wife Karen, bought a home in the early 1980s just two blocks from the river. They never thought they would see the river flow through their home. But it did: Burns said the couple had 14 inches of water through their first floor, and river sediment filled the garage and driveway.

“In all my years in Marseilles – and I was 62 when the flood happened – I’ve never seen these homes flooded,” he said. “I was born and raised just four blocks away from this house.”

Like many of the residents, the Burns family didn’t have flood insurance. They didn’t know they needed it.

“For years, this was not considered a flood plain area. A few years ago that changed and we could have purchased flood insurance, but no one told us,” he said. “Of the 100 homes damaged, only three had flood insurance.”

To help prevent homes like the Burns’ being destroyed by future floods, as well as businesses and infrastructure, state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and officials from several communities along the Illinois and Fox rivers including Ottawa and Marseilles, joined forces and created the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance.

The IVFRA is competing for a $1 billion federal grant.

Hundred-year flood

Ottawa building and zoning official Michael Sutfin understands what Marseilles and the Burns family have had to deal with.

Ottawa has faced three “hundred-year” floods in seven years.

“I think the name is misleading, and people often question why a hundred-year flood is happening more often. We had it in 2007, 2008 and 2013,” Sutfin said. “The name has changed to a 1 percent event, which is more accurate.”

The name change is because there is a 1 percent chance of it happening in any given year. Locally, along the Illinois and Fox rivers, it has happened several times in recent years.

Sutfin also noted floods are the only weather event measured by rarity versus severity. Tornadoes and hurricanes, for instances, are measured by scales people recognize and in a manner where they can understand the damage caused.

The Enhanced Fujita scale (EF-Scale) rates the strength of tornadoes in the United States and Canada based on the damage they cause. The Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale is a categorical classification of hurricanes based on their wind speed.

In the past eight years, Sutfin and the city of Ottawa have been working on a flood plan to help eliminate the loss of life and minimize damage to homes and businesses.

Sutfin became certified as a flood manager for the city and got to work adopting and enforcing higher standards for land that falls inside the flood plain.

In the floods in 2007 and 2008, there was significant damage to homes and businesses. By 2013 when the all-time record event hit, formerly referred to as a 500-year-flood, there was no infrastructure loss and no life loss.

“The flood was 13 feet higher then we’ve ever seen,” Sutfin said. “We lost some picnic tables and docks.”

As Rezin toured the areas affected by the 2013 flood, she questioned why Marseilles had so much damage and Ottawa did not. Rezin’s district includes about 100 miles of the Illinois River and 30 miles of the Fox River, which meet at Ottawa.

“I saw firsthand in Ottawa what being proactive looks like,” Rezin said.

Becoming proactive

As the IVFRA competes for the $1 billion federal grant, Sutfin said the group is in phase two of the grant competition, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. While several other areas in Illinois are in competition for the grant, it is the IVFRA the state has chosen to partner with.

Rezin said the grant money, if received, will be used within the IVFRA area to help participating municipalities become more flood ready.

“It’s not a question of if we flood again, it’s a question of when,” Rezin said.

The first goal was to have every community in the region have a certified flood plain manager so all the municipalities could learn from one another and start to implement strategies to prevent future flood damage.

Rezin said there are now 24 certified managers and the alliance is still working toward getting one in every community. She said the more that join the IVFRA, the better communication is and the better chance to avoid loss of life and structures.

Morris does not have a flood manager, but representatives have been attending alliance meetings.

“I have been in discussion with the city attorney to see if we need an ordinance to create the flood manager title,” Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said. “Flooding is currently addressed by the Building and Zoning officer.”

Kopczick said while the flooding in Morris in 2013 wasn’t nearly as bad as what Marseilles faced, the city has taken action on flood mitigation.

Grundy County was declared a major disaster area after the April 18, 2013, flood caused the Illinois River and area creeks to flood into city streets, filling some people’s homes with water and leaving many stranded.

In 24 hours Morris received 3.88 inches of rain. Continued rain pushed the total over 4 inches. The river crested at 24.91 feet, surpassing the 2008 record of 24.8 feet.

Emergency responders made about 75 rescues, many on Cemetery Road in Morris, the first day of the flooding. In addition, the historical aqueduct carrying the I&M Canal over Nettle Creek collapsed. No one was killed or severely injured from the flooding.

Morris Hospital had to evacuate 47 patients during the flood, based on recommendations from the Emergency Management Agency, which was worried the water would continue to rise.

“The city, as well as the Morris Hospital, have taken mitigation efforts to make sure the hospital doesn’t flood again,” Kopczick said.

Burns said it makes sense to have the communities come together in the alliance.

“I think any time you get a bunch of heads together, it’s a good thing,” he said.

Burns said the combined knowledge of a great group makes him feel better that there will be solutions to prevent his newly rebuilt home from becoming part of the river again.

Education is key to the success of the alliance, Sutfin said.

“We want every part of this coalition to adopt higher standards. It’s much easier to do it collectively,” he said.

It’s also important when addressing the issues that municipalities realize what one does can affect another town up or down river, Sutfin said.

If all municipalities in the region use the same regulations such as the flood plain compensatory storage regulation – which would mean that for every one shovel full of fill you place in the flood plain, you take 1.5 shovel full of fill out – they can be sure that the flood mitigation they are planning won’t be negatively affected by their neighbors.



Flood-resiliency group hopes to clinch US funding (News Tribune - July 2015)

A flood preparation coalition met this week in Ottawa but barely mentioned this summer’s flooding.

Rather, the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance emphasized that communities need to plug into a growing collaboration with state and federal agencies to get help with flood planning and possibly access funding.

“The coalition is starting to get legs, as they say,” said state Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), who began the alliance two years ago.

“How are we getting everyone together and how do we put a plan in place?” she said. “This area is doing it.”

The coalition of flood-prone cities, villages and counties from Morris to Henry and beyond have passed Phase 1 of a federal grant program to access $200 million in flood mitigation funding coming to Illinois, Rezin said.

“We’re in a national competition and we have to meet our deadlines,” Rezin said.
The Illinois Valley alliance is aligned with the state and is competing with the city of Chicago, DuPage County and Cook County for the funding.

“Heading into Phase 2 we’re taking some credibility with us,” said Mike Sutfin, building and zoning official for Ottawa.

There are other programs that will reduce costs of flood protection or repairs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers levee maintenance program will pay 80 percent of repairs if your community is in their program.

Communities can get real-time flood response in The Mobile Information Collection Application, said Anthony Heddlesten, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood engineer. “Be creative. Think outside of the box. Let’s try to turn this into something useful,” he said.
Paul Osman, floodplain program manager for Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said he is still assessing damage from this summer’s flooding. The results could lead to disaster declaration and monetary assistance, he said.

Once a structure is flood-damaged up to 50 percent, it has to be demolished or moved out of the floodplain, and insurance assistance becomes available, Osman said.

The state now charges fees between $1,000 and $5,000 for permits to build in the floodplain. The fee for most homes is $2,500, Osman said. The goal is to discourage adding things that force water to go elsewhere, Osman said.

Someone at the meeting asked if the DNR regulates trees in the floodplain.
“We regulate manmade activities in the floodplain,” Osman said.

OUR VIEW: Kudos -again- for flood control progress (June 2015)

From the Ottawa Daily Times

Ottawa Building Official Mike Sutfin has done it again: scored yet another well-deserved distinction for the city of Ottawa’s remarkable program to correct community flooding.

Monday night at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., as the representative of the city, Sutfin was presented with the top “Judges’ Prize” award and $25,000 in the “Solutions Search” national contest seeking ways to reduce the risk of weather-related disasters in communities.

The contest was sponsored by Rare, an international environmental organization committed to conservation programs. It was designed to focus on the continuing need for innovative solutions to mitigate flooding and other weather-related disasters.

Ottawa surpassed dozens of other entries from more than 20 states with innovative solutions to reduce weather disaster risk in this "Solution Search" competition.

Ottawa’ progress in flood control has been remarkable.

“In just a few short years, the city of Ottawa has gone from one of the most flood-prone communities in Illinois to one of the least,” Paul Osman, the manager of the Illinois’ statewide floodplain programs, said Tuesday. “No other community in Illinois has reduced flood risk as successfully as Ottawa.

“Ottawa not only shines as a beacon and example for other communities in the state, they now serve as an example for the entire nation,” he said. “Ottawa is now represented on several state and federal commissions and the city’s experiences and successes provide instrumental input into national flood loss reduction strategies.”

Osman noted that residents of Ottawa not only are less prone to flood damages, but they also are rewarded with some of the deepest flood insurance premium discounts in the entire state.

“Mike Sutfin has been a champion of this cause,” Osman said. “He has worked tirelessly and his combination of honesty, integrity and sincere dedication to the residents of Ottawa is obvious. His expertise is recognized at both the state and national level. However, Mayor (Robert) Eschbach, (City Engineer) Dave Noble and State Sen. Sue Rezin also should be commended as they have all worked together to make Ottawa a national leader.

Osman also commended Nancy Stisser, the city’s Community Development Department’s administrative assistant, for her capable support in the process.

“Nancy is awesome,” he said. “She has done a ton of the actual work and rarely gets much recognition.”

This is not the first time Sutfin has been honored. In 2011, he was named "Flood Plain Manager of the Year" by the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management Association.

When Gov. Pat Quinn visited the area after the flooding in 2013, he personally applauded Sutfin.

"It was officials like Mike Sutfin among others whose flood mitigation planning help to reduce damage to this city and helped to save its wastewater treatment plant," Quinn said.

That same year, Sutfin was presented with the "Award for Excellence" at the 2013 National Flood Conference Program in Anaheim, Calif.

Rezin, who has worked closely with Sutfin on flood control, said Monday’s award was well-deserved.

“I want to thank Mike Sutfin, his team and Mayor Eschbach for their hard work, as Ottawa is very fortunate to have national leaders in disaster prevention as their local leaders,” she said. “What the city of Ottawa has done to help prevent flood losses is a model for communities around the country."

“One of the things about the award is it shows us how important it is to be involved in efforts and organizations that go beyond the city,” said Eschbach. “You development relationships when you do that, and Mike’s been involved in floodplain management issues far beyond the city of Ottawa. As this award shows, you also become aware of opportunities beyond the city, whether it’s grants or other programs.

“Mike’s done a heck of a job,” Eschbach said. “I know his competition was tough, so we’re very proud of him.”

   Mike Sutfin receives the award from Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel.

   Sen. Rezin speaks about local Flood Alliance at national conference (June 2015)


Atlanta, IL – Speaking at the Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM) annual national conference in Atlanta on June 4, State Sen. Sue Rezin presented to local, state, and federal flood plain managers how the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance (IVFRA) can be used as a model for any region in the country that deals with flooding.

“The Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance is something we established in 2014 after our region suffered major flood losses in 2013,” Rezin said. “The IVFRA brings communities, local governments, and emergency personnel together so everyone is on the same page and ready to go, in the inevitable event our rivers rise again. We are now better prepared for a flood event in our region because of it. An alliance like the IVFRA can work as a model for other regions in the country so they too can better prevent flood losses.”

Rezin spoke with the flood plain managers from across the country about the IVFRA and how it helps several entities come together to prepare for floods, through education, communication, education, and the purchasing of new flood prevention materials.

“A big reason why we established the IVFRA is because we were amazed at how little communication there was between our local communities up and down our rivers when there is a flood,” Rezin said. “This alliance makes sure everyone involved during a flood event is on the same page, while speaking and understanding the same terminology. That goes a long way in saving property, infrastructure, and lives.”

“There is a real interest in what Senator Rezin is doing, organizing people at the local level and building a collaborative effort to reduce flood losses,” said Mike Sutfin, the Building and Zoning Official from the City of Ottawa. “As a direct result of Senator Rezin’s involvement, there are now 24 new Certified Floodplain Managers in her district. This will have a very positive impact moving forward."

Sen. Rezin’s 38th Senate District has about 130 miles worth of river frontage, one of the most in the state. Ottawa alone is the watershed for 12,000 square miles. The state of Illinois has the largest collection of inland bodies of water and rivers in the continental United States. Twelve percent of surface in Illinois is mapped as a flood plain.

Rezin receives statewide award for flood prevention efforts (March 2015)


Bloomington, IL – State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru) has been honored by a statewide group for her work to help Illinois residents plan for and protect themselves from flooding, and for her support of legislation addressing floodplain issues.


The 38th District Senator received the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management (IAFSM) Legislation Award at the organization’s Annual Conference March 13 in Bloomington.


The award honors an Illinois lawmaker or local official for his or her efforts in floodplain issues.


“I am so honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” Rezin said. “I can’t stress enough that it’s a team effort to prevent flood losses. I want to thank everyone around the 38th Senate District who is taking a proactive approach so we are better prepared when waters start to rise along our rivers and streams.”


In 2014, Sen. Rezin took a leading role, establishing the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance (IVFRA) to get communities together to learn more about how to prevent flooding, how to coordinate people and materials during a flood, and the best practices of clean-up and recovery. It also educates communities in floodplain management by joining established state and federal organizations, certifying key people as floodplain managers, and adopting higher regulatory standards. The IVFRA is also working on securing grant funding right now for flood-fighting materials.


"Having local flood-fighting experts, the newest flood-fighting materials, and having each community on the same page will go a long way the next time flood waters are imminent,” Rezin said. “It will also save local governments, municipalities, infrastructure, and people a lot of money. I am confident our flood alliance will help keep our neighborhoods and infrastructure dry and also save lives.”


Rezin was nominated for the Legislation Award by Mary Lou Kalsted, who chairs the Community Rating System Users Group for the Illinois Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers. Kalsted also worked for the Village of Lisle for 33 years, including the last 10 years as Stormwater Administrator.


“Without the strong encouragement and political support from Senator Rezin, the coalition would not have come to be,” Kalsted wrote in her nomination letter. “She was able to look at flooding across her district, and bring together the numerous municipalities and counties who deal with it repeatedly. Her efforts on behalf of her district have made a huge difference for life along the rivers. Participating communities now understand that their own actions have a direct impact on sister communities up and down stream.”


Rezin took a proactive regional approach to flood fighting after the flood in 2013 cost LaSalle and Grundy counties more than $150 million.


"The state of Illinois has the largest collection of inland bodies of water and rivers in the continental United States,” Rezin said. “Twelve percent of surface in Illinois is mapped as a flood plain. It’s not a matter of if we will have another flood, but when we will have another flood.”


“After the flooding in the spring of 2013, Senator Rezin worked with other area legislators and asked communities in her district what steps could be taken to reduce flood losses,” Kalsted wrote in her nomination letter. “Based on the results and working with the IAFSM Floodplain Management Committee, Senator Rezin took the lead and contacted communities in her district and set up an organizational meeting. Since then, five counties and 18 communities from the 38th District have formed a coalition to prevent, fight, and mitigate flooding.”


Sen. Rezin Hosts Flood Fighting School (November 2014)

In 2014, Sen. Rezin hosted a “Flood Fighting School” in Ottawa. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, LaSalle County Emergency Management, the City of Ottawa, and dozens of other community leaders, learned about proper sandbag preparation, how to build earth levees, common failure modes, and what new materials and technology is available that can make fighting floods easier, with less man power. The IVFRA originally included LaSalle, Grundy, Bureau, and Putnam counties. It has since added several more.


"We must be proactive, and having a plan in place will help us all battle the next major flood,” Rezin said. “Like these other communities around the country I spoke to at the national conference, it’s not a matter of if we will have another flood, but when we will have another flood.”


Sen. Rezin’s 38th Senate District has about 130 miles worth of river frontage, one of the most in the state. Ottawa alone is the watershed for 12,000 square miles. The state of Illinois has the largest collection of inland bodies of water and rivers in the continental United States. Twelve percent of surface in Illinois is mapped as a flood plain.


Video recap from our Flood Fighting School