Local

Illinois River Town Still Recovering From Flood

This was the scene in Marseilles, Ill. three weeks ago when the Illinois River flooded a section of town. (CBS)

This was the scene in Marseilles, Ill. three weeks ago when the Illinois River flooded a section of town. (CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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(CBS) — It’s been three weeks since flooding gripped much of Illinois. A lot of areas have recovered, but not the small town of Marseilles.

There, 200 families still can’t return home.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.

Gutted homes — blocks of them. Eroded streets, buckled sidewalks, packed dumpsters. This is Maseilles today.

“It’s a very severe emergency to our town — a casualty. It really is,” Police Chief Jim Hovious says.

It’s a $6 million casualty — the result of severe flooding when the Illinois River overflowed. Barges that hit the dam made matters worse.

Four to five feet of water wiped out years of Christy Carpenter’s personal belongings. What’s left fits in her garage.

“It’s draining,” she says. “You’re sifting through memories, is basically what you’re doing.”

Carpenter, like most of the residents who live along the river, didn’t have flood insurance. In order to rebuild they’re hoping for federal aid.

They’d also like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to raise the earth and dyke to prevent future flooding.

Repairing the town’s only grade school has already begun. More than 500 students are now in churches or neighboring towns.

“It’s hard. You want to cry, but you have to go on,” Principal Jim Owens says.

And they will. Eighth grade graduation is May 23. It’ll be held in a tent outside the school.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he’ll make every effort to make sure Marseilles qualifies for federal assistance