BLOOMINGTON — State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru) has been honored by a statewide group for her work to help Illinois residents plan for and protect themselves from flooding, and for her support of legislation addressing floodplain issues.
The 38th District senator received the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management (IAFSM) Legislation Award at the organization’s annual conference March 13 in Bloomington.
The award honors an Illinois lawmaker or local official for his or her efforts in floodplain issues.
“I am so honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” Rezin said. “I can’t stress enough that it’s a team effort to prevent flood losses. I want to thank everyone around the 38th Senate District who is taking a proactive approach, so we are better prepared when waters start to rise along our rivers and streams.”
In 2014, Rezin established the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance (IVFRA) to get communities together to learn more about how to prevent flooding, how to coordinate people and materials during a flood and the best practices of clean-up and recovery. It also educates communities in floodplain management by joining established state and federal organizations, certifying key people as floodplain managers and adopting higher regulatory standards. The IVFRA is also working on securing grant funding right now for flood-fighting materials.
“Having local flood-fighting experts, the newest flood-fighting material, and having each community on the same page will go a long way the next time flood waters are imminent,” Rezin said. “It will also save local governments, municipalities, infrastructure and people a lot of money. I am confident our flood alliance will help keep our neighborhoods and infrastructure dry and also save lives.”
Rezin was nominated for the legislation award by Mary Lou Kalsted who chairs the Community Rating System Users Group for the Illinois Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers. Kalsted also worked for the village of Lisle for 33 years, including the last 10 years as stormwater administrator.
“Without the strong encouragement and political support from Senator Rezin, the coalition would not have come to be,” Kalsted wrote in her nomination letter. “She was able to look at flooding across her district, and bring together the numerous municipalities and counties who deal with it repeatedly. Her efforts on behalf of her district have made a huge difference for life along the rivers. Participating communities now understand that their own actions have a direct impact on sister communities up and down stream.”
Rezin took a proactive regional approach to flood fighting after the flood in 2013 cost LaSalle and Grundy counties more than $150 million.
“The state of Illinois has the largest collection of inland bodies of water and rivers in the continental United States,” Rezin said. “Twelve percent of surface in Illinois is mapped as a flood plain. It’s not a matter of if we will have another flood, but when we will have another flood.”
“After the flooding in the spring of 2013, Senator Rezin worked with other area legislators and asked communities in her district what steps could be taken to reduce flood losses,” Kalsted wrote in her nomination letter. “Based on the results and working with the IAFSM Floodplain Management Committee, Senator Rezin took the lead and contacted communities in her district and set up an organizational meeting. Since then, five counties and 18 communities from the 38th District have formed a coalition to prevent, fight and mitigate flooding.”