Spoon River flooding leaves London Mills scooping debris

Some 400 residents in London Mills, Illinois, have a monumental mission on their hands.

They’ll learn more about flood relief during a community meeting on Monday evening.

Evacuated during Spoon River flooding last Thursday, they must begin to pick up the pieces.

Rusty Dowell and Ron Craver are fighting flooding with a boat on Monday. After water surrounded a house, they must find a valve to let it escape.

Homeowner Mark Leadbetter offers hands-on help. Wading in the water, it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

“I went into town and was helping sandbag,” he recalled. “Never thought that in a million years I’d be looking at my house the way it is.”

Leadbetter and his family escaped torrential rain and the river’s wrath, leaving with just a few belongings. A few days later, their household was scattered across the muddy ground. A son’s bike was barely above water.

“It was total amazement to see it all come up and over so fast,” said Amanda Franklin, Mark’s wife. “You didn’t have time to react.”

But as the water goes down, the real work begins. Families will need to pull together to get the job done.

Swift current says a lot on Monday. Debris is swept up into trees, and London Mills is left to clean it all up.

“This is a very close community,” Franklin said. “We’ll all pitch in.”

Success with the valve outside their home means relief for a family. They’ll eventually find a way back home.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of work and take a lot of time,” she concluded.

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