Jacksonville's recovery efforts underway

Jacksonville residents are asked to conserve as much water as possible, forcing stores to do the same.

UPDATED: July 8 at 4:30 p.m.

Good news for the weekend!

The boil order for the City of Jacksonville and Murrayville-Woodson Water Commission has been lifted.

Although customers may experience a small amount of discolored water, it is still safe for consumption.

In addition to hydrant flushing, normal system usage will also help in the removal of any discolored water in the distribution system.

Instructions for post boil order residential water system flushing are available on the City of Jacksonville website and flyers that have been distributed throughout Jacksonville.

Mayor Andy Ezard says I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding throughout this disaster. I applaud the efforts of all those who contributed to rebuilding our water plant in three weeks time, which normally would take many months to complete. Since the plant is now functioning near normal capacity, we will now focus our efforts towards making sure this doesn TMt happen again.

Distribution system flushing is currently in progress for the Scott Morgan Greene (SMG) Water Cooperative and the Alexander Rural Water District to restore chlorine residuals and begin water quality sampling.

The boil order is still in effect for: Scott Morgan Green (SMG) Water Cooperative Alexander Rural Water District


UPDATED: July 5 at 4:55 p.m.

Jacksonville residents can be at ease this week after the city lifted its water conservation restrictions over the weekend.

Mayor Andy Ezard says he's waiting for test results from the EPA to see if the chlorine is pushing through the lines properly.

Until then, a boil order still remains across the city.

Mayor Ezard says the cleanup is going well.

As for financial aid, city officials say it's a work in progress.


UPDATED: June 30 at 10:30 a.m.

The holiday weekend does not bring good news for Jacksonville's water supply. The city is still under a boil order and water conservation order.

City officials tell KHQA the water should be back on sometime next week.


Jacksonville residents may not have water for at least another week or longer. This after major flash flooding took over the city early Saturday morning.

Jacksonville took on more than 8 inches of rain in under 5 hours, flooding nearby Mauvaise Terre Lake and Creek. That water poured over into residential areas of east Jacksonville, leaving residents without drinking water for 3 days.

The city's currently working to restore its water treatment plant.

"The EPA is on site overseeing it all, but as you can imagine there's a lot of backwashing that has to happen and we don't have the water to do that," said Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard.

Water Supply

Restaurants and convenience stores have posted signs in their bathrooms and fountain machines warning of potential contamination.

Bottled water is flying off the shelves at local grocery stores many of them have trucks on standby to bring in more water. The city is pumping a limited amount of water from it's aquifers in Naples, but it's not enough. Residents are being asked to conserve water as much as possible. This water is not safe to drink.

A boil order is in effect until further notice. This does not include South Jacksonville. Total estimated damage is not known, but emergency management says the city should qualify for state disaster relief. The city will most likely not get a federal disaster declaration.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross chapter in town is asking all residents affected to contact them for assistance.Volunteers are making their way through affected neighborhoods looking for people who need shelter and food.

We spoke with one representative Tuesday who says the Red Cross has kept a shelter open for the last three days (at the Illinois School for the Deaf Officer Hall on Webster Ave.), but no one has come to use it. So far, they've been able to assist about 25 people on a case by case basis.Red Cross is also supplying cleanup buckets to anyone who needs help.

You can reach a Red Cross volunteer at 217-243-6641.

Disaster Aid

The Morgan County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency says Jacksonville should get state money to help in the city's cleanup, but that's not going to help individual homeowners who were affected.

Federal dollars would only come if the disaster created more than 16 million dollars worth of damage. Jacksonville's damage assessment won't meet that number without merging its situation with other areas across the state, but that doesn't happen very often.

"This whole system has been a strange year. The state of Illinois has a lot of federal disaster declarations for other counties, on the Ohio, the Mississippi, in the southern counties. But it may be that we're going to plead our case that this is another followup of these events," said Morgan County EMA Director Bob Fitzsimmons.

MacMurray College

MacMurray College took one of the hardest hits to its facilities. Within hours, four feet of water took over the college's ball parks and several dorms.

"It was like a lake, it was crazy. I've never seen anything like it before," said Larry Trowbridge with the college's physical plant.

Staff spent the weekend and much of Monday sifting through mounds of water damage.

Anything salvageable? "Very little. 25 years worth of records gone. Now we'll just have to remember," said Trowbridge.

Across the street, three dorms including Kendall House took in feet of water, flooding most areas of its basement.

Ted Roth with MacMurray College says these rooms were not being used at the time, so students shouldn't worry about the water damage affecting their next school year.

"Classes will begin on schedule, August 30 and we'll be ready," said Roth.

Cleanup is expected to take about three weeks.

Residents without a home

People who live in the nearby Rolling Hills Mobile Home Park took a hard hit from Saturday's floods. Many have insurance, but it doesn't cover flooding. Now, they're picking up the pieces, with nowhere to turn.

Mary Sanders has lived at the Rolling Hills Mobile Home Park for three years, but now she and her family are homeless, with everything they own in the back of their van.

"We have no where to go. Friday I had a home. Now I have nothing," said Sanders.

Saturday started like any other for her family. She was getting ready for work when she heard the rumor. Sanders soon saw police coming into the neighborhood with the notice to evacuate. She had only minutes to throw everything she owned into her car before getting out. When the water went down, so did her hopes of returning home.

"Everything is sopping wet, and the floor is collapsing," said Sanders.

What's worse is news that no one can help. State disaster recovery money only helps cities deal with the cost of recovery. And this disaster isn't big enough for FEMA.There are at least 18 other families in the Rolling Hills neighborhood in the same situation. The city says it's relying on churches and aid organizations like the Salvation Army to pitch in where they can. But those organizations do not help with shelters.

A business on the rocks

This flooding also had a big economic impact on the city. Plants like Pactiv & Nestle have suspended production due to the water issues. It's also flooded local businesses. We spoke to one owner who says his business is on the rocks.

Mark Marquard is the owner of Artic Ice in Jacksonville. Now, his life's work is literally washed out.

Early Saturday when the water was coming up he was wading through the muck to rescue his vehicles and equipment, but with the water coming up about 3 feet an hour he didn't have much time. Despite his work, water took over his building and most of his equipment.

Despite everything, Marquard is keeping his business afloat. He's buying ice elsewhere to supply to his customers and hauling it in the only freezer truck he was able to haul out before the flood waters took over.

Morton Road

Flash flooding along Morton Road in Jacksonville went down as quickly as it came. Saturday the road was closed because of several feet of sitting water. Monday, the only evidence of the flood are railroad ties and tree trunks mangled with the guardrail.

Levee Breach

High water in Jacksonville is responsible for a levee breach near Bluffs, Illinois. The flood wall along the Mauvaise Terre Creek broke in three places. The water flooded fields, and stopped traffic along Illinois 100 south of Bluffs.Farmers here spent the day evacuating equipment and grain from bins in the area. Thousands of acres are under water.

*Reported by KHQA's Brooke Hasch and Melissa Shriver