Durbin Calls for Meeting with FEMA Administrator, Army Corps and Others to Discuss Incomplete Information on Illinois Levees

Agencies commit to holding public meetings in Metro East region and making levee information publicly available

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After receiving a response to his request, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called for a meeting with the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Craig Fugate, and Assistant Secretary of the Army, Jo-Ellen Darcy, to discuss a lack of information that is necessary, according to FEMA, to certify five Illinois levees – Chain of Rocks, Fish Lake, MESD, Prairie Du Pont and Wood River.

Once the information is complete, FEMA is committed to expediting the levee certification process and posting the data on the agency’s website. Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers is planning to conduct joint public meetings with FEMA and local stakeholders in the coming months.

“Without complete information about the structural integrity of the levees, it would be irresponsible for any agency to certify them as safe or unsafe,” said Durbin. “At the same time, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have an obligation to work with local communities to determine status of levees and clearly explain the risk of flooding. I hope to have a meeting scheduled as soon as possible with both agencies and Congressman Costello to determine the quickest way to complete this information and make it publicly available to residents of the Metro East area.”

Today’s letter was sent in response to a January 5 letter from Durbin to FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, calling on both agencies to publicly release their data on the status of Metro East levees and make both agencies available to brief local community leaders and residents. Earlier this year, at Durbin’s urging, FEMA agreed to delay the implementation of the new flood maps for the St. Louis region for at least one year. In the next few weeks, Durbin will introduce legislation that will address the need to protect property owners that are located in the floodplain.

Previously, in response to a 2008 request from Durbin and Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL), 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.