Damage to dam due to barges under investigation

By WEEK Producer

May 10, 2013 Updated May 10, 2013 at 10:36 PM CDT

MARSEILLES, Ill. -- Flooding in Marseilles, Illinois was caused at least in part by damage to the dam, to what extent is under investigation.

Senator Dick Durbin toured the area on Friday.

April 18th, in the midst of record flooding along the Illinois river nine barges broke loose from their tow and collided with the Marseilles dam.

"Ultimately four barges were sunk and there were three barges that remain floated that were up against the dam," said Col. Mark Deschenes of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently working to remove barges and make temporary repairs at a cost of nearly $7 million. For a more permanent solution, it will cost the federal government roughly $50 million.

"We want to make sure we do everything possible to restore the traffic on the river and then to work on this earthen dike which is protecting the pool in the river as well as the residents here," said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, (D).

Nearly 1,000 people in Marseilles are now displaced. Some are questioning if someone else could be at fault. That is under investigation.

"Certainly considerable that what happened with the barges at the dam induced additional over topping. We don't know the exact extent of that, if any," said Col. Deschenes.

Some are already discussing lawsuits, while others said now is not the time.

"Get the necessary repairs done so we don't have a recurrence of this event in the near future, and then we'll move on to the longer term questions of who should pay for what when the time comes," said Col. Deschenes.

Homeowner Jim Trager lives about 100 yards from the Illinois River. He's currently gutting his home and said he's waiting to decide if he's going to re-build.

"We're not going to think about re-building until they do something with the levee, raise it," said displaced homeowner, Jim Trager.

Still, Senator Durbin said he will do what he can to get any federal dollar available.

"I don't want to over-promise, but we're going to work with the Governor, we're going to find every available federal dollar to help restore the damage that's been done," said Durbin.

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