Property owners in Edwards could be offered buyout

By WEEK Producer

May 2, 2013 Updated May 2, 2013 at 7:33 PM CDT

EDWARDS, Ill. -- Residents in Edwards are still cleaning up from the flood. When the Kickapoo Creek overflowed, Jerry Egan lost practically everything.

"We only had about 45 minutes to get out because when we left, about 45 minutes later when we pulled out of town, the water was bumper high on our truck," Egan said.

Egan is hoping for federal assistance. But residents of Edwards may get more than that. According to a member of the Peoria County Board they may be faced with a life-altering decision.

"Do the folks of Edwards want to rebuild?," asked Brad Harding. "If FEMA IFederal Emergency Management Agency) is involved our understanding is they're going to have to elevate many of their homes and businesses here, elevate it so the flood 10 years from now doesn't effect them. The other option is to actually shut the town down."

But for that to happen residents would have to agree to a federal buyout.

Edwards property owner Bob Gunter says he was told, under that scenario, the government would pay him about 75-percent of his property's value. He's already considering it, but with some reservations."

"I might be more interested if they told me they could make the decision relatively quick," Gunter said. "I don't want to let it sit for two years and then they tell me we've decided not to, its yours again. And then I have to fix it all up again."

But even with those concerns, the alternatives may be more difficult.

"To stand here today and think about raising all of these homes up on stilts, that would be a Herculean task," Harding said.

Whether residents chose to elevate Edwards or to eliminate it, the process will take several years.