Last week was another proud moment for our region, specifically, the communities along the Illinois and Fox Rivers. Despite nearly hitting the record flood levels of 2013, the preparation, action, and communication from everyone involved in this 2018 flood event was incredible.
Thank you to our local and county officials, especially Mike Sutfin with the City of Ottawa, for their tireless work last week to keep everyone informed, doing their best to protect infrastructure and property, and taking the necessary steps to keep people out of harm’s way. Thank you to our first responders who ensured people’s safety. Thank to you our certified floodplain managers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, officials with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and other flood experts who monitored the rivers and provided critical up-to-the-minute information to officials and residents. Thank you to our local media for their work in communicating this information to residents. Thank you to the residents for cooperating with evacuations and to the volunteers who helped.
While the damage caused by the flood wasn’t as bad as anticipated, due in large part to the river not rising as high as expected, I believe the team effort from across the region, combined with the lessons learned from 2013, were also factors in minimizing flooding issues.
My office teamed up with local officials to start the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance (IVFRA) several years ago. It was created because the 2013 flood caused so much damage and because communities during that flood were not communicating with each other in the best ways possible. The actions taken by one community upstream can severally impact communities downstream, so this communication is vital.
Fast forward to today, and I think we have proven with this flood event that we are better prepared now for a major flood. The IVFRA has dozens of active members from across LaSalle, Bureau, Putnam, and Grundy counties, and has been responsible for adding more than 20 new certified floodplain managers across the region. The IVFRA meets quarterly to discuss the latest flood-fighting techniques and tools, reviews lessons learned from past experiences, works on grant applications, and discusses ways to be proactive now so as to further minimize flood losses in each community in the future.
All of our floodplain managers, combined with all of our communities now working together as a unit, are critical in minimizing any kind of loss. We are the only region in the state with this kind of flood alliance.
While the clean-up continues today, I want to say thank you again to everyone for their hard work, their proactive approach, and working together to minimize damage and save lives. It is just another reason I am proud to call this region home and represent it in Springfield.