Central Illinois hit with two disasters within months

By Audrey Wise

November 24, 2013 Updated Nov 25, 2013 at 12:41 AM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- The heart of Illinois is reeling from two natural disasters within seven months.

First, it was the record flooding in April and now the tornadoes that hit just one week ago.

Still, the community remains united to re-build.

It was an extremely rare event last Sunday as late fall tornadoes ripped through Central Illinois.

Now rewind, just a few short months ago. Some of the same areas, like East Peoria and Pekin, saw record high flooding.

"I've been in Pekin for 64 years and to have two things in 64 years to happen within seven months is just kind of unreal," said Pekin Mayor Laurie Barra.

The flood waters ruined homes and property along rivers and in low-lying areas.

Mayor Barra said, "It affected Riverfront Park, it affected our docks, our pier downtown, and probably, most importantly, affected our waste-water treatment plant."

East Peoria Mayor Dave Mingus said, "The City had to take major provisions to ensure our residents' safety, which included the evacuation of a neighborhood."

Some Pekin residents that were spared from the flood waters, weren't so lucky this time explains Mayor Barra, "The area that was effected, the river is right over the railroad tracks, so they were within yards of the river."

Some residents and business owners are still re-building from the spring floods. Now, hundreds more will join them.

"We're a resilient group of people," said Mayor Barra.

Mayor Mingus agrees, "The resolve of those folks and the resolve of our citizens has been overwhelming. It's been incredible."

Both Mayors said as much as you try, no one can be fully prepared.

"You think you can be prepared and you can have all the plans written down, but when it comes right down to it you are living moment to moment," said Mayor Barra.

It's just a matter of time before the area will see another natural disaster. Our own Chief Meteorologist Chuck Collins said this intensity and frequency could become standard.

"A lot of Climatologists are saying that extreme weather events may be made more extreme because, maybe global warming and climate change. This may be the new norm," said Collins.

But if one thing is to be learned from all of this, it's that Central Illinois will weather storm and it's aftermath together.

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