Demolition begins on Pearl City homes affected by flooding

PEARL CITY, Ill. (WIFR) -- Village leaders call it the beginning of the end.

Demolition began Wednesday on more than a dozen floodplain homes in Pearl City

"When it happened again, I thought, 'We are not doing this again, no matter what," said Pearl City resident Gail Westaby.

Westaby's home was in her family for generations. She says it belonged to her grandparents.

Westaby's first experience with flooding was in 2002.

"We lost everything, 4 cars, a lot of stuff in the house."

After that, she and her family did repairs and were fine until 2010.

"It costs $20,000 to rebuild. You're doing carpets and flooring and walls," she said.

They experienced flooding again in 2010 and 2011.

The Westabys are one of the dozens of families driven to move because of floodwaters.

"We have a moral obligation to serve our people."

Village leaders are using a $2.1 million dollar grant to clear homes in the floodplain, a grant they were awarded in 2015 but haven't been able to use until now.

"We had everything done, and then the state budget hit, and now the budget's solved and the money's starting to come," Pearl City Village President Robert Knoup said.

While Westaby said the changes will be worth it, it's hard to say goodbye.

"It's just gonna be really hard to come on this side of town and see these houses gone."

The village closed on five properties so far and is working on the next eight. The property will then be used as green space until something else can be done.