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Husch Blackwell levee and flood control specialists help guide Council through process

   Shortly after officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency made their pronouncement in August 2007 that the levees protecting the American Bottom would lose their accreditation, the East West Gateway Council of Governments reached out to the law firm of Husch Blackwell LLP.
Human-headshot   That’s because Husch Blackwell attorneys have specialized in levee and flood control matters since 1929. David Human leads the firm’s levee and flood control practice group.
   Human has extensive experience with flood protection projects and levee and drainage districts in the Midwest including in the states of Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee as well as South Carolina, Florida, California, Colorado and Mississippi.
   Because of his extensive experience and knowledge of both FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Human was tapped to help get the effort started in the right direction. His group assisted with drafting the legislation that created the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District. Human’s group also assisted in reviewing financing and financing alternatives, and reviewed ongoing financing for the operation and maintenance of the levee systems.  
   “We do a lot for existing districts,” Human said, “in terms of trying to improve their financing and improve their sources of revenue which they often aren’t aware are available to them.”
   Once the district was created and the board of directors was appointed, Husch Blackwell was brought on as the council’s legal representative and brought the lawsuit against FEMA in 2010 in a successful effort to invalidate its new flood maps.
   With the resolution of that lawsuit against FEMA, the district has been able to resolve many of its differences with the USACE.
   “I’ve worked a ton with the St. Louis District of the Corps of Engineers,” Human said. “And I’ve worked with a number of other districts within the Corps. That helps, because I know who the players are and how they operate. The other thing is, they know me.”
   With contentious issues laid to rest, the Flood Prevention District Council has been able to focus more on its purpose – renovating the levee systems. After discarding a plan to use graded filters to relieve water pressure in favor of expanded seepage berms, the acquisition of property easements has become a large task. Approximately 200 easements need to be acquired and Husch Blackwell has the job of preparing all the legal documents.
   While all of that property acquisition would seem to be a daunting task, Human says his experience has shown him that most people understand the importance of the project and want to cooperate.

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