Our recent report The Prevalence and Cost of Urban Flooding was a game changer in our efforts to keep homes and businesses dry and increase community resiliency in the face of increasingly severe rainstorms. We set out to pinpoint where exactly urban flooding was happening, and to our surprise we found that the majority of flood damage occurs outsideof designated floodplains. Because most flood relief programs focus on people who live within floodplains, we discovered that many flood victims have a hard time getting the financial assistance they need.
To fill this gap, CNT recently approached Illinois State Representative Mike Fortner with a proposal to introduce legislation establishing the Home and Business Flood Protection and Loan Program Fund, HB 3525. In the last several years, Rep. Fortner has been the sponsor of some important stormwater management bills and was immediately supportive of the Home and Business Flood Protection concept. He introduced the bill on February 26, 2015.
The essence of the fund would be to provide low-interest loans to municipalities and other government units, which would then use the loans either to fund public flood mitigation projects or to offer grants and other financial assistance to homeowners and businesses suffering from flood damage.
Project criteria would prioritize rapidly deployable, inexpensive flood mitigation measures, such as the repair of building sewers; landscape re-grading; retrofitting of streets and parkways using permeable pavement, bioswales and native plantings; installation of cisterns and rain barrels; and the construction or restoration of stormwater flood pathways. Larger eligible projects might include building elevation, relocation or buy-out, and construction or restoration of critical natural barriers such as wetlands, swales and landscape buffers.
“Homeowners and businesses have faced devastating floods in the last few years, and we need a program to help them. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Natural Resources look forward to working with state officials and community organizations to provide direct financial assistance in the form of low interest loans for flood protection projects,” said Lisa Bonnett, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.