FEMA Awards Two Illinois Valley Cities More Than $1 Million Each For Flood Protection

Mar 28, 2018

Flooding in a Marseilles neighborhood (archived photo)
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Two Illinois Valley cities are getting more than a million dollars each from the federal government to help prevent flood damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the grants to Ottawa and Marseilles Tuesday.

Marseilles is receiving $1.2 million from FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation program. The money will go to build a flood wall and pumping station to protect the city’s wastewater treatment plant when the Illinois River rises. Marseilles Mayor Jim Hollenbeck said getting the money means a lot to his small community.

“I don’t think there’s any way we would have been able to afford this without the grant," he said. "So we’re excited to get this project moving, and then we won’t have to worry about sand bagging any more."

That's something, Hollebeck said, that the city has had to do at the plant sitting on the Illinois River the past several years.  Hollenbeck said protecting it from high water is important for the health and safety of his city.

“This facility treats all the human waste and all the wastewater for the entire town," he said. "It’s the only facility we have. If it got flooded and shut down, I don’t know what we would do to be quite frank about it.”

Ottawa is getting a little less than $1.2 million to upgrade and add to levees that protect Ottawa Township High School and adjacent properties.

Each community has to put up close to $400,000 of its own money for the projects.