Festival raises money to protect levee - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Festival raises money to protect levee

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JACOB (WSIL) -- Although the community of Jacob hasn't lost any homes to flooding, residents in several locations have been forced from their homes because of flooded roads. Saturday, Levee Fest took place to raise money to combat flooding. 

"The levee is just probably 300 yards back behind the house, when it comes up, that's the only thing we have to keep the water out," said Raudel Zesati. 

Zesati's house is nearly surrounded by water. On Saturday morning he watched as more than 100 Levee Fest runners raced by. The Levee Fest 5k raised much-needed funding to protect the levee that protects Jacob.

"We've got to have things like the run, and different organizations come together to raise money to be able to fund it, somebody's got to pay for it," said Jason Thies. 

Bottoms Up Bar and Grill owner Jason Thies and other community members came together six years ago and created "Community for a Safe Levee."

"First five years, we raised $160,000 and right now, as of this morning, we're sitting just a little north of $10,000 for this year," said Thies. 

That funding will help Jacob add additional pumps to fight flooding.

"What we're raising money for now is to rebuild some old pumps and put them in place and have another location for a pump house," said Marla Rathjen, Race Director. 

Rathjen said that while the 5K is for fun, protecting the levee is serious business.

"We have markers over there where the water level would be. Where we're standing, if we didn't have this levee in the background, it would be way over our heads," said Rathjen. 

She said the on-going flooding has motivated more participation in this year's Levee Fest.

"It is apparent that we've got a serious issue going on down here and I had a lot more people come out for the 5K, so we're very happy about that," said Rathjen. 

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