SPRINGFIELD – In a continuing effort to help communities hard hit by a severe winter storm late last week, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today directed Illinois National Guard troops to Macon County to assist local officials in checking on area residents who are without power. Gov. Blagojevich also dispatched an Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) to Decatur to assist with medical care at a special needs shelter, and sent inmate work crews from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to help Taylorville cleanup downed trees and branches.
“Illinois has a number of assets to help communities recover from the devastating storm, including the National Guard, the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team and inmate crews. As long as people need our help, we’ll work with local officials to get it to them,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Troops from the Illinois National Guard are expected to be in Decatur on Tuesday to begin visiting homes to check on the welfare of residents who have been without power for several days. This mission is similar to one the Illinois National Guard conducted over the weekend in East St. Louis.
An 18-member IMERT team arrived in Decatur overnight to provide medical care at a shelter set up at Richland Community College for special needs individuals, many of whom have been without power at their homes. The shelter will operate until the occupants can return to their residences.
Four inmate crews with a total of 52 inmates will be in Taylorville this week to assist the Taylorville Street Department with debris removal. The inmates are from the Vandalia Correctional Center. In addition, eight trucks from the Illinois Department of Transportation will assist with hauling debris.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 152,000 homes remained without power, down from more than 250,000 on Friday. Most power in the state is expected to be restored by Wednesday.
The storm also affected blood donations as thousands of people who had been scheduled to give blood were unable to get to the collection locations. This has resulted in a reduced blood supply needed for emergencies. The American Red Cross is encouraging anyone who is able to call 800-GIVE LIFE, or their local blood bank.
On Tuesday, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency began preparing for possible activation of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) by reaching out to state agency liaisons and gathering pre-event information on available assets and response capabilities. The SEOC has been activated since Thursday evening to monitor the storm condition and work with local officials on any state assistance needed. The SEOC will remain activated as long as necessary. To date the state has assisted in several ways, including:
- More than 500 troops from the Illinois Army National Guard helped ensure the safety of citizens on Saturday and Sunday. About 100 Guardsmen were sent to East St. Louis where they conducted more than 800 door-to-door checks on citizens, while others checked for stranded motorists at rest stops and along Interstate highways from the I-80 corridor down to I-70.
- More than 120 cots from the Illinois National Guard and 600 meals were delivered by staff from the Department of Central Management Services to four shelters in St. Clair County.
- Using an Illinois National Guard Blackhawk helicopter, an Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) truck, Illinois Department of Natural Resources snowmobiles and an Illinois State Police four-wheel drive vehicle, 200 meals were delivered to stranded travelers at a rest area along I-80 near Princeton Friday evening, and another 200 were delivered to stranded motorists at a rest area east of Galesburg. In addition, IDOT Aeronautics provided disaster intelligence to the SEOC via an IDOT helicopter flying above the rest stop.
- The Illinois National Guard used equipment and personnel to assist with moving a small passenger jet at the Peoria Airport after it broke down, blocking the gate area.
- To date, more than 1,700 IDOT trucks have plowed more than 325,000 miles along Illinois interstates and highways.
- Hundreds of people have sought a warm place to spend the night at several shelters established by the American Red Cross.
- The SEOC is coordinating with local emergency management officials on assistance needed in their communities as they respond to the ice, heavy snow and strong winds.