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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Quigley on Flooding in Chicago Area

Apr 25, 2013

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) calls on Congress to address recent flooding in Illinois and make long-term plans to address the climate change causing extreme weather.

Below is a video and transcript of this speech:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise today because last week my District experienced its second "Storm of the Century" in the last three years.

More than seven inches of rain turned the streets of Elmhurst, Franklin Park and Albany Park into rivers.

Clearly, we need to revisit our definition of the "100 Year Storm."

Because while some may doubt the reality of climate change,

it's a fact that stronger, more destructive storms are pounding our region with distressing regularity and resulting in huge costs.

Maybe some don't believe in addressing climate change, but I hope they believe in funding flood control.

We owe it to our constituents.

I spent most of this past weekend touring the flooded streets and basements throughout my District.

Everywhere I went, I encountered residents who had lost their homes, their belongings, and their peace of mind.

The residents I talked to wanted to know two things: what was their government doing to help?

And why was this happening again, so soon after the horrific flooding of 2010?

I told people that my office would do everything it could to bring federal disaster relief to their homes and businesses.

But unfortunately, federal help for big states can be an uphill fight.

Aid is based, in part, on a population-based formula that penalizes larger states like Illinois.

Big states have to suffer more damage before meeting the aid threshold.

This process of awarding aid is unfair, and we need to change it.

I raised this concern last summer with my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

I was pleased to see language in Super Storm Sandy legislation requiring FEMA to review its processes in awarding disaster aid.

But reviews and bill language are of little immediate consolation to people who have lost their homes or businesses.

With 44 counties declared a disaster area after last week's flood, we don't need another study.

The people of my District, and others across the State, need our help.

FEMA needs to act, and act without delay, to get Illinois back on its feet.

Every town in my district has projects that will help lessen the impact of the next storm.

Storm sewer improvement, berms, swales, planting more wetlands, permeable pavers, detention ponds, and the Deep Tunnel project can lessen or even prevent disaster.

We need to find the funds for these local projects that will avert the next flood, and ultimately save millions in tax dollars in damages.

For the Chicago area, that means demanding the $35 million per year in federal funding that is needed to complete the McCook and Thornton reservoirs.

These reservoirs are part of a larger flood mitigation plan, put in place over 20 years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The federal government is now holding up their completion because of budget issues.

Local projects are just a start though.

We also have to address the question of why "Hundred Year storms" are recurring so often.

Climate change is here, and we must address it now.

With a sensible energy policy, development of alternative energy sources and common-sense conservation -

- We can begin to confront one of the great challenges of our time.

If we don't, then the storms of last week in the Midwest and last fall on the East Coast will be the new normal.

And that's a normal none of us can afford.