By Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

WOLF LAKE, Ill. (AP) - Students are back in class at a southern Illinois high school after it was closed for a week due to flooding, taking time to discuss the effect of flooding on their families.

Although waters have started to subside, Illinois in recent weeks saw flooding along rivers including the Mississippi, Sangamon and Illinois. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued state disaster declarations for 23 counties, largely in central and southern Illinois. Damage assessments are ongoing to see if any areas are eligible for federal assistance.

Students returned to Shawnee High School Monday for the first time since flooding closed the Wolf Lake school, The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan ( ) reported. The school district runs along the Mississippi River, and most students live on flood plain.

Eight of 10 students in teacher Jamie Nash-Mayberry’s social studies class said they evacuated their homes, and about half said they helped pass sandbags to shore up levees. She asked her students to write down and document their experiences for historical record.

Junior Abbey Livesay of Wolf Lake wrote about how she packed up her home that she has lived in since birth, and then drove to Grand Tower to help friends do the same. Junior Wyatt Hassebrock described how he split time between packing up his home and pulling 12-hour shifts at a farm, where thousands of bushels were being taken to higher ground.

“It’s a lot of stress to wonder, in three days, how do you haul 200,000 bushels?” Hassebrock said. “Well, when everybody pulls together, it can happen. And it did.”

Nash-Mayberry is behind the school’s Levee Project that teaches students about the importance of levees. They write to local, state and federal officials, research fixes and raise money for local levee districts. Students told her that those lessons resonated as waters rose and said they felt anxious about their homes and school.

With waters receding, students’ fears have waned for now.

“It was a relief knowing that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but still everybody was just stressed and on edge,” Livesay said.


Information from: Southern Illinoisan,

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