December 08, 2022

Heavy rains bring relief but worries to southern Illinois

DUQUOIN, Ill. — Heavy rains over the last week brought drought relief but some added headaches to southern Illinois.

“If you look at the rainfall now, specifically talking about what occurred in the last seven to 10 days, as of Aug. 5, there have been areas that have had over 8 inches of rain at one time,” said Jerry Costello II, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Costello said work is underway to survey counties about possible damage and crop damage due to extreme rainfall and flooding.

Heavy rains swept through the St. Louis metro area and into parts of central and southern Illinois in the last week of July and the first few days of August.

Those rains prompted evacuations in Missouri and Illinois. In Nashville, Illinois, some temporary evacuations occurred on July 26 after a secondary dam breached on the Nashville Reservoir due to heavy rains there.

Another wave of heavy rains swept through southern Illinois and northern Kentucky on Aug. 4, with the Marion, Illinois, and Central City, Kentucky, areas being hard hit.

According to National Weather Service reports, Williamson County, Illinois, storm spotters reported rainfall totals on Aug. 4 from 4.41 inches near Herrin to 6 inches of rain around Johnston City.

The rains came after a flash drought left parts of Illinois dry and crops struggling.

“It’s obviously been interesting over the last six weeks or so. If you look at about six or seven weeks ago, we had a flash drought across parts of the state. Then we went to a period where the average rainfall across the state was 2 inches but because those rains were so spotty, we had areas that had 5 or 6 inches and areas that had none,” Costello said.

Costello said his department is communicating with the Illinois Farm Service Agency, as the FSA works to determine if there has been crop damage from the heavy rainfall and flooding.

“From a Farm Service Agency aspect, they collect all of those numbers. That is done on a county-by-county basis. That is the process we are in right now,” Costello said.

Costello said if disaster declarations are made, farmers in adjoining counties would have the ability to also receive assistance.

“They can specify a certain county (for a disaster declaration), then contiguous counties also have the ability to receive funding, because weather is spotty and doesn’t know county lines. That can also apply if it’s on the border. For instance, In Alexander County, Illinois, that declaration could also encompass Kentucky. If Alexander County was declared, a contiguous county in Kentucky could have the ability to receive funding. That applies to Missouri and Indiana, as well,” Costello said.

For July, several locations in southern Illinois had rainfall totals well above average. According to NOAA National Weather Service data, Olney had 11.51 inches of rain in July, 6.5 inches above normal; Effingham had 9.59 inches of rain, 5.3 inches above normal, Charleston had 9.17 inches of rain, 4.77 inches above normal; and Taylorville had 5.45 inches of rain, 2.14 inches above normal.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor