A plan to get to work on upgrading levees from Alton to the Columbia Bottoms is at a standstill, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is yet to issue the necessary permits. Fearing a delay, the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council is preparing to press the issue, and has received some financial support for that effort. Dynegy Midwest Generation, which operates an electric generation plant in Alton, has donated $5,000 to the cause
Levees nationwide have been under the microscope since the Hurricane Katrina failure of 2005. The project to bring levees from Alton to Columbia back up to the 100-year flood level could be wrapped up by 2014 if the work can begin in the spring, according to Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois' Patrick McKeehan.
Much of FEMA's stance on this issue is tied to the levee failures in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and other flooding events around the country. He says the levees have never failed in the 70 years they have been in existence. If the levees are decertified by FEMA, the cost of new insurance premiums across the region could reach an estimated $50-million.