CHICAGO, IL – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that Illinois will receive a $9.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to build a new state-of-the-art State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). Governor Blagojevich received word of the grant today from Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
“The Emergency Operations Center is the nerve center for the state’s response to any disaster – from terrorist attacks to floods and tornadoes,” Blagojevich said. “Since 9/11, our demands on the existing center have far surpassed its space and capabilities. Thanks to this grant and matching state funds, we can build a state-of-the-art SEOC that allows us to meet all of the disaster response challenges that face us in today’s world.”
Illinois’ grant award was the second highest in the nation among states vying for a share of $73.9 million in total grants. The state must provide a 25 percent match, which can include the value of state land used for the facility and architectural or engineering work conducted by the Capital Development Board or other state agencies. Under terms of the grant, the facility must be completed or nearly completed within 18 months.
The SEOC currently is located in the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) building in Springfield, near the Capitol complex. During an emergency, representatives from as many as 25 agencies report to the center to coordinate response efforts.
The new SEOC will enhance the state’s ability to respond during any type of emergency, including those related to acts of terrorism. In natural disasters, Illinois annually ranks among the top states for most tornado touchdowns and has experienced three 100-year floods along the Mississippi River in the past 10 years.
Plans include more space to accommodate the increased number of SEOC representatives, as well as adjacent meeting space for consultation with additional staff. Wireless voice communications and videoconferencing capabilities will increase the SEOC staff’s ability to consult with the governor and other decision makers around the state during a crisis, while a helipad will allow officials to be quickly transported to a disaster scene.
The state’s Radiological Emergency Assessment Center (REAC), which monitors conditions in and around the six operating nuclear power plants in Illinois, will also be relocated to the new SEOC to increase coordination between those two centers.
Other less high-tech needs of the center will also be met by the new facility, including a media briefing room. A new location apart from the existing IEMA building will also allow for the higher levels of building security needed for such a facility without disrupting the daily operations of IEMA.