SPRINGFIELD – In the aftermath of one of the nation’s most devastating hurricanes, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today authorized the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team to travel to Louisiana to assist in Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. The Governor also directed the Illinois National Guard to standby to travel to Louisiana, should the state request Illinois’ assistance.
The state of Louisiana made the request to Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) officials through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). The compact, which includes 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, is a mutual aid agreement and partnership that facilitates states assisting other states during emergencies.
The Illinois Emergency Medical Team consists of ten highly trained doctors and specialists with clinical experience and field experience who can quickly assist in medical disasters, including setting up on site field hospitals. The IMERT team is assembling in Springfield tonight and will be deployed to Louisiana tomorrow.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama whose homes and communities have been shattered by this devastating storm,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “When I received the request to send our emergency medical team to assist in Louisiana, it was an easy decision. We want to do whatever we can to help.”
On Monday, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf States with winds in excess of 140 miles per hour, inflicting catastrophic and widespread damage across the region. Katrina, downgraded Tuesday to a tropical storm, shattered buildings, smashed cars and boats, toppled trees and flooded entire communities. It’s estimated that nearly 75,000 people are being housed in 240 shelters across the region. Nearly five million homes and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are without electricity, according to utility companies serving the region. Risk analysts estimate the storm may cost insurers $26 billion, making Katrina potentially the costliest U.S. natural disaster.
In addition to sending medical personnel to Louisiana, Gov. Blagojevich encouraged Illinois citizens who want to help hurricane victims to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
“The best way any of us as individuals can help those in need right now is through monetary donations to the Disaster Relief Fund,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “The American Red Cross uses that fund to provide food, shelter, counseling and other assistance to victims of disasters like Hurricane Katrina – the things most needed by these people right now.”
Donations to the Disaster Relief Fund can be made by calling 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or through a secure internet site at www.redcross.org.