GIBSON CITY – As Gibson City cleans up from last week’s flash flood, a special fund has been set up to help people pay for the damage.
Businesses, churches and private individuals have set up about two dozen GoFundMe pages seeking donations for people who suffered flood damage during the heavy rains that fell for hours on Gibson City on August 12. But the special fund was set up by Gibson City.
Its name is the City of Gibson Emergency Flood Relief Fund. Donations can be sent to the fund at the Bank of Gibson City at this address: Bank of Gibson City, PO Box 311, Gibson City IL, 60936, with “City of Gibson Emergency Flood Relief Fund” written on the memo line of the check.
Tracy Epps, president and CEO of the Bank of Gibson City, says the bank building itself avoided flood damage on August 12, when a nearly stationary line of thunderstorms dropped nine to 11 inches on Gibson City and nearby Elliott. But he says flooding seriously damaged several other businesses, including the local motel and the Dairy Queen. The rains also damaged several homes.
“North State Street in Gibson City, there’s two areas there, it’s low, and they had just a tremendous amount of water,” says Epps. “Most areas of town, you just never saw that much water, ever. These areas had three feet of water inside the house on the first floor, in addition to their basements.”
Epps says there are plans to have a local foundation, the Gibson Area House Rehab Foundation, oversee the distribution of money from the flood relief fund. He says the criteria for who is prioritized for assistance is still be determined. Gibson City Mayor Dan Dickey says he hopes the money will go to the neediest among the flood victims.
“There are people out there who don’t have anything, and now they’ve lost literally everything,” says Dickey. “Everything in their homes and their apartments, it’s gone. And those are the people we want to target.”
Dickey says his own home suffered flood damage, but that he won’t be needing financial assistance.
In addition to the fund set up by Gibson City, a foundation established by Realtors is also offering financial aid to Gibson City flood victims. The Illinois Realtors Relief Foundation and the Champaign County Association of Realtors announced Thursday that Gibson City residents affected by the August 12 flooding are eligible to apply for housing relief from the IRRF. Individuals who wish to apply for relief funds can find more information online.
Several agencies will be offering relief services for flood victims at a Multi-Agency Resource Center, which will operate Saturday, August 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Kruse Center, 207 N. Lawrence St., on the east side of Gibson City. Government agencies, as well as programs offered by private groups including the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, will be represented. New Beginnings Christian Fellowship in Gibson City is providing transportation for area residents to the event; call on Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 217-784-8673.
However, Mayor Dickey says large-scale government disaster relief will not be available. In a Thursday afternoon Facebook post, Dickey wrote: “Unfortunately, we learned there will be no financial assistance from the federal government ‘FEMA is NOT coming’. IF the region qualifies for state level assistance, it will only be in the form of low interest rate loans for individuals and businesses through the Small Business Association (SBA). For immediate individual or business loans, contact your local bank.”