Before the flood

Thursday, June 29, 2006

No one who lives in the unincorporated parts of Alexander County in Illinois has flood insurance. The county commission quit the federal flood insurance program in 1988, making Alexander County the only Illinois county along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers without protection against flooding.

But a seven-year effort to remedy that situation may be nearing a conclusion as the Federal Emergency Management Agency reviews the county's application for returning to the program on a probationary basis.

In 1999, the county commission decided to get back into the program, but getting back in has been extremely difficult. Any building constructed since 1987 is required to conform to the insurance program's construction rules.

The lack of federal flood insurance is severely damaging a county that has many other problems. The absence of federal flood insurance makes it nearly impossible to obtain business loans, home mortgages and government grants, and to attract industry. For instance, the library in Olive Branch lost out on an expansion grant because no flood insurance is in effect.

If Alexander County is ever to climb out of its economic morass, federal flood insurance is a necessity.

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