Rebuilding Olive Branch will take years - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Rebuilding Olive Branch will take years

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Olive Branch, Illinois -

OLIVE BRANCH, IL (KFVS) - The floods of 2011 are still causing problems for folks in Olive Branch.

Nearly nine months after the flood waters came rushing into Olive Branch, the Community Rebuilding Committee is still a long way from deciding where and how to rebuild the town.

"It would probably take another year to start getting homes and places to live. And I'm tired," said Lucille Masterson. "So maybe I can survive until they do build some homes or something."

Right now one of the biggest hurdles is getting the FEMA funds to town to help with the buyout program.

So far more than 170 households have committed to accepting a buyout and moving to a new location.

But exactly where that will be is still undecided.  Once a location is decided upon it could take years for the homes and businesses to begin going up.

"You're looking at everything from roads to the infrastructure and utilities. It's a daunting process," said Alexander County Engineer Jeff Denny. "You're probably looking at a couple of years for that to happen because we're so dependent on those outside funding sources. That's what has kind of slowed things down so far. When you have to apply for grants and wait for those, it just adds to the whole time of trying to do something."

As the committee continues with their decision making process a team of researchers and professors from Southern Illinois University Carbondale are going to be there to help guide them.

"We'll use our expertise to allocate the right size of the properties, the right orientation for a sustainable design," said Associate Professor of Architecture Craig Anz. "We try to make the best use of the green spaces and open spaces. And make the best transportation patterns. And we try to make sure the community is a connected community. So neighbors know one another."

And in the end the committee is hoping to build a flood free town. And one that will stand for another one hundred years and beyond.

The committee members will be traveling to Greensburg, Kansas, Joplin, Missouri and Valmeyer, Illinois in the first part of March. They plan on talking to community leaders there to learn how to go about rebuilding a community.

The trip is being made possible by a $60,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

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