EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Help may be on the way to East St. Louis as emergency management workers assess flood damage. Residents are relieved, in part, as they continue to fear the root cause is still being ignored.
On Terrace Drive, residents still haven’t been able to return to their flooded homes. They say they’ve been begging for a nearby pump station to be fixed
“Let’s start fixing the problem – now!” said Marnita Sanders, who lives on nearby Mary Avenue.
“I want to get to the root of the problem,” Sanders said.
She’s talking about a broken-down pump station, exposed on FOX 2 last May and called out by the EPA in March 2021. There’s no ceiling and it’s in such disrepair that it’s only operating with the help of borrowed portable pumps.
“We are not requesting for East St. Louis to repair the pump stations, we’re demanding that,” she said.
While meeting with Sanders, we spotted East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III. He had not answered our earlier requests for comment.
“We’re not running from our duties,” he said. “We’re trying to manage them as best we can.”
What has the city done thus far?
“So, like I said, it’s out for maintenance right now,” Eastern said.
The mayor agreed that it needs to be fixed, adding that the problem predates his administration.
“Anytime you have pump stations that are not operating, it creates a problem when you have an event like this,” St. Clair County Emergency Management Director Herb Simmons said.
Simmons accompanied several agencies, including FEMA, which assessed flood damage, to make a case for federal assistance. Simmons warned that the pump station may not have likely prevented catastrophe.
He said it could have made a difference in another way.
“Would it have receded quicker and we’d gotten the water out of there? Possibly, it could have,” Simmons said.
Does Mayor Eastern know when the pump will be operational again?
“Again, like I said, the parts are on backorder. We meet every morning,” he said.
The mayor thought he might see progress in six to eight weeks.
“It’s been too long,” Sanders said.
Citizens say they’re determined to hold him to it.