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State politicians react to damage in Morris, Marseilles

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, during a stop in Morris Sunday, reaffirmed his commitment to helping the state recover from last week’s severe flooding.

The stop came during a tour of several flood sites across the state.

Quinn surveyed the collapsed aqueduct in Morris and devastation in Marseilles that occurred when barges broke free and crashed into a dam, flooding much of the town and forcing numerous evacuations.

“We need to help everybody get back on their feet,” Quinn said, adding that emergency management crews have done a good job.

The Morris aqueduct, which was built in 1937 and carried the I&M Canal over Nettle Creek, will have to be completely rebuilt.

Other walking bridges along the canal collapsed and a portion of the towpath is impassable.

In Marseilles, flooding occurred when water breached a levee on the Illinois River.

Police Chief James Hovious said streets in town are open, the river has gone down and the levee has been temporarily repaired.

However, he said, most of those evacuated have still yet to return to their homes.

“There have been a few on the edges of the flooding area that have been able to go back,” Hovious said. “But for the time being, we’re mostly doing clean-up right now.”

“I expect it will still be a while,” he added.

State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris), who toured with Quinn Sunday, said local officials have done a good job of dealing with the extraordinary circumstances.

She pointed specifically to crews in Marseilles, who had to evacuate numerous residents, including at a nursing home.

“They did an incredible job,” Rezin said. “It was very methodical. I commend them for the job they did.”

Rezin also commended the Emergency Operations Center.

Rep. Pam Roth (R-Morris), who toured sites separately, said residents across the county are trying to recover from the damage.

“The devastation was pretty widespread,” Roth said.

Rezin and Roth each urged those who experienced flooding and need emergency funds to report damage carefully and take pictures.

“The more damage we can justify, the more federal FEMA funding we’re likely to secure,” Roth said.

Rezin said she appreciated Gov. Quinn coming to the area to see the devastation firsthand.

“[Quinn] was very compassionate,” Rezin said.

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