Preparing to keep Fairbury safe from floods, that was the goal for an exercise on Wednesday morning involving several local agencies.
On Wednesday, workers in various city agencies, members of Fairbury City Fire Department and Fairbury Rural Fire Department, and representatives from Union Pacific gathered at a levy on the north side of Fairbury to learn how to seal the levy in case of raging flood waters. Assistant Street Superintendent Laura Bedlan explained that this levy is crucial for keeping the city safe.
“If this doesn’t get closed, it floods the city,” said Bedlan. “If it doesn’t get closed, the river comes up and follows the floodplain down to the areas that were flooded a couple of years ago. So, it’s a critical low-point in the levy, and it’s also a flash point. We get a lot of flash flooding through the area, so we have to move quickly to get it closed.”
Bedlan believes that the exercise was a great way for people to learn the process behind closing the levy in order to protect the city.
“It went well,” Bedlan said. “It was a drill on closing the stop-log gate, which is a critical point in our levy. We have to work with other entities, like Union Pacific to get it shut. Union Pacific was good about working with us today to get it shut and to make sure that new staff is aware of how to manage it.”
The exercise also helped the city to discover areas of improvement that will make closing the levy more efficient. They will work on those areas to see what feasible options they have to make the process run smoothly.
“There’s been some good suggestions,” said Bedlan. “Again, this is a point in the levy where we have to work with several other organizations, so we will take those suggestions back to Union Pacific and to the Army Corps of Engineers and see what we can do to make it a little bit easier, requiring less man-power. We’ll see what we can do to make those changes. I appreciate that the city staff and others were attentive, and I think it all went well.”