SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today declared seven Illinois counties state disaster areas following a round of storms that moved quickly through the area this weekend, causing severe damage and approximately two dozen minor injuries. While staff with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is still assessing the damage, no fatalities have been reported as of mid-day Monday, March 13, 2006.
“We activated the State Emergency Operations Center last night and began coordinating the state response as soon as the storms started moving through Illinois,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “Thankfully, right now it appears that no one was killed and injuries appear non-life threatening. Illinois government is now focused on cleaning up and helping people get on with their lives.”
After meeting this morning with IEMA staff and surveying some of the impacted area, Gov. Blagojevich declared Ford, Greene, Logan, Morgan, Randolph, Sangamon and Scott counties state disaster areas.
This afternoon the governor toured parts of Springfield and met with Mayor Tim Davlin to survey damaged sections of the city. The tornado tracked through the city of Springfield from the Southwest corner and exited through the east central portion of the city. At one point, all of Springfield and the surrounding area were without power. As of this morning, approximately 30,000 people in and around Springfield remained without power.
Currently, work crews from the Illinois Department of Corrections numbering more than 70 inmates have been dispatched to assist in clean up efforts in Morgan, Randolph, Sangamon and Scott counties. The Illinois Department of Transportation has crews cleaning up debris along the highways throughout the state and is assisting with equipment and manpower in Morgan and Sangamon counties.
The Department of Human Services is putting together a 1-800 response number to field questions from residents impacted by the storms. The number is 800-568-0446.
In addition, Gov. Blagojevich has directed his staff to work with the Illinois State Bar Association to set up a lawyer referral network for residents impacted by the storm. People impacted by the storm that have legal issues will be directed to the Illinois State Bar Association who will assist by connecting them with a volunteer lawyer through this network. State agency lawyers are being asked to field questions from state employees who may also have storm-related legal questions.