SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today asked President Bush for federal assistance to help 49 Illinois counties recover from last week’s major winter storm that dumped record amounts of snow in many counties while devastating other areas with heavy ice accumulations that downed power lines, trees and branches. On Tuesday, Gov. Blagojevich declared those 49 counties state disaster areas as a result of the storm.
“Response and recovery efforts continue after the season’s first blast of winter weather, but these communities need federal help to fully recover and prepare for more severe weather,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Gov. Blagojevich’s letter to the President requests federal snow assistance for counties that experienced a one, two or three-day record or near-record snowfall. It also requested federal assistance with state and local costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures for counties severely impacted by extraordinary ice formation.
Counties included in the request for snow assistance include Adams, Boone, Brown, Bureau, DeKalb, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lee, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Menard, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Scott, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell and Winnebago. If the snowfall totals for these counties are verified by the National Weather Service, governmental bodies in those counties would be eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of overtime labor costs for snow removal during a 48-hour period, as well as overtime costs for emergency personnel directly related to the snow removal efforts.
Counties included in the request for debris removal and emergency protective measures to help with extraordinary storm-related costs include Bond, Calhoun, Cass, Champaign, Christian, DeWitt, Greene, Jersey, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, McLean, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Piatt, Sangamon, Schuyler, Shelby, St. Clair and Woodford. If this part of the request is approved, units of local government would be eligible for 75 percent federal reimbursement for such extraordinary expenses as debris removal, emergency sheltering, temporary power, and security expenses
While the state and many counties continue to incur storm-related expenses with recovery efforts still in progress, the state’s request for assistance included an initial estimate of more than $5 million.
Also as of Thursday afternoon, more than 45,000 homes were still without electricity in Illinois. On November 28, with weather forecasts indicating a possible severe winter storm, 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 November 30 to monitor storm conditions 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:
- Gov. Blagojevich declared 49 counties disaster areas due to record or near-record snowfall and/or extraordinary ice formations. The gubernatorial proclamation assists the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in coordinating state resources, including the Illinois National Guard, to support local governments in their disaster response and recovery efforts.
- 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 250 Illinois Army National Guardsmen on Thursday completed a three-day mission in the Decatur and Macon County area, during which they visited nearly 17,000 homes to check on the welfare of citizens left without power after the storm. Guardsmen distributed safety information to residents and assisted 118 people who needed shelter or other assistance.
- An 18-member Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) was dispatched to Decatur to provide medical care at a shelter for special needs individuals at Richland Community College. So far, 11 area residents are at the shelter.
- State resources, such as inmates and heavy equipment, are assisting with debris removal in Taylorville, Kincaid, Nokomis, Mechanicsburg, Decatur, Schram City, Harvel, Buffalo, Fairview Heights and Swansea
- 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.
- The state dispatched a Mobile Command Vehicle from Bloomington and an Illinois Transportable Emergency Communications System (ITECS) from Champaign to Decatur to aid with the emergency response effort. The equipment was purchased with the state’s homeland security funding but is available for use during any type of emergency.
- 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.