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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2004

GOVERNOR BLAGOJEVICH MOVES QUICKLY TO ENSURE SAFETY AND FUTURE WELL-BEING OF ROANOKE COMMUNITY IN WAKE OF TORNADO

SPRINGFIELD – Reacting immediately to yesterday’s natural disaster in Roanoke that ravaged a manufacturing plant and left hundreds without a place of employment, Governor Rod Blagojevich has launched a comprehensive and coordinated effort to provide critical emergency assistance to those impacted by the tornado’s destruction, especially the nearly 200 workers of the Parsons Manufacturing Company, which shouldered the brunt of the tornado’s impact.  The Governor has deployed several state agencies along with the state’s Rapid Response Team to the disaster area, ensuring that both the victims’ safety and livelihoods will be well provided for by dedicated professionals.
 
“The tornado that tore through this area Tuesday afternoon gave us all a tremendous scare.  While our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with those who were injured, we can be grateful that no lives were lost.  As you would expect with Central Illinois residents, the efforts to pick up the pieces from this natural disaster and get back to daily life are already well underway.  Residents in the area should know that we are working side by side with them in these undertakings, and that the specialized expertise of our trained workers will be available until the safety, well-being and future employment of this community is once again secure,” Governor Blagojevich said.  
 
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) partially activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) Tuesday afternoon and dispatched personnel to Roanoke to coordinate any state response assistance needed.  IEMA also activated Technical Rescue Teams and hazardous materials advisors from the cities of Peoria, Frankfort, Orland Central and Springfield and McLean and St. Clair Counties.  On Wednesday, IEMA staff were in Roanoke to conduct an assessment of tornado damage throughout the area.  Within the past few weeks, employees of Parsons Manufacturing participated in a drill of the company's disaster plan, a move that likely contributed to saving the lives of all of the employees during the tornado.
 
The Illinois Department of Employment Securities (IDES) is also helping workers from Parsons Manufacturing file unemployment insurance claims and with employment assistance.  For more information, Peoria residents can call 309-671-3113 x503, Bloomington residents can call 309-827-3420 and Pekin residents can call 309-346-4171.  The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Family Community Resource Center is providing cash assistance, family health assistance and food stamps – call 309-467-2358, 1-800-252-8635 or TTY – 1-800-447-6404
 
While no final decision has yet been made by Parsons as to the future of its business, Governor Blagojevich is directing the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to work with the company when it is ready to rebuild with a variety of economic development options that will help get the nearly 200 local employees back to work as quickly as possible.


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