WE ARE sure that we are not alone when we say that we hope the worst of this spring's flooding is past us. The Mississippi River now has dropped almost 4 feet over the past week, and with some cooperation from Mother Nature, that downward trajectory will continue.
We offer our thanks and gratitude to those officials and volunteers who worked so hard to help shore up levees along the river, protecting lives, property and farmland. Friends and neighbors answered the call for help and filled hundreds of thousands of sandbags, showing yet another reason we all are blessed to be able to call this region home.
Of course, none of this means we are out of the woods yet. A few days of heavy rain could once again put us in a perilous situation.
In the meantime, though, we can start looking forward to cleaning up and readying for repairs. It will be important during this time to remain vigilant, however, as there are those who would seek to take advantage of the situation to make some quick money for themselves.
Thankfully, damage to homes, businesses and other structures has not been as extensive this year as it has in previous years.
However, for those who do face repair work, choosing reputable, honest contractors will be imperative.
To help with that process, the Illinois attorney general's office has offered a list of tips and suggestions to help keep from falling victim to fraud. Among them:
º Compile a list of contractors to consider by getting recommendations from friends and family, material suppliers such as lumber yards or hardware stores, or the yellow pages of your local telephone directory.
º Verify the contractor's name and address and visit the contractor's business office, if possible.
º Contact the attorney general's office, Better Business Bureau and local Chamber of Commerce to find out if complaints have been filed against the contractor.
º Determine whether the contractor is a member of a professional association by checking with the appropriate building trade's offices.
º Request references.
º Request an estimate of the cost of work to be done and compare it to estimates from at least two other contractors.
º Verify that the contractor has public liability and property damage insurance as required by the Home Repair and Remodeling Act.
Following these tips can go a long way toward helping keep difficult situations disastrous.
And a general suggestion, this one from us: A lot of local businesses have suffered lost revenue, many for several weeks. Once they have reopened, be sure to direct as much business as you are able to toward them. Helping them recover quickly will be one more way we can continue to share our blessings.