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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich issues state disaster declaration for 19 southern Illinois counties hit by flooding
State disaster declaration will help area get state assets and personnel for response and recovery efforts

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today declared nineteen southern Illinois counties state disaster areas due to widespread flooding that has covered roadways, closed numerous businesses, forced people to evacuate their homes and caused two deaths.  The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities recover from flood and storm-related damage.  Counties included in the Governor’s declaration are: Alexander, Fayette, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, White and Williamson.

“Flooding already is widespread throughout southern Illinois, with many rivers and streams expected to continue rising for the next few days,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “The state has been working closely with local emergency management officials to assess their needs for assistance, and this state disaster declaration will ensure these counties get what they need to protect public safety and speed the recovery process.”
 
The State of Illinois has personnel and assets that can be mobilized to help local government officials with disaster recovery, including trucks, heavy equipment and work crews to speed up debris removal, and assistance with security and other public safety issues.
 
The Governor also has directed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to continue coordinating assistance to southern Illinois through the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield, which was activated Wednesday morning in response to flooding.  State officials have been working with local emergency management officials throughout southern Illinois to help them deal with floodwaters caused by heavy rains that totaled nearly 12 inches in some areas.  
 
“The rains have stopped but the danger hasn’t passed, so people in these areas need to continue to be extremely cautious around floodwaters,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III.  “Never attempt to drive on a flooded roadway, because your car can be swept away by as little as two feet of water.”
 
State assistance for southern Illinois flooding coordinated to date through the SEOC:
 
  • IEMA has deployed five regional coordinators and additional regional staff on site.
 
  • IEMA conducted an aerial assessment of flooding throughout southern Illinois Wednesday from an Illinois State Police (ISP) airplane.
 
  • IEMA coordinated deployment of an Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF) mobile command vehicle from the City of DuQuoin and an Illinois Transportable Emergency Communications System (ITECS) to ISP’s District 22 office to support operations.
 
  • IEMA deployed the agency’s satellite vehicle to provide live video of flooding to the SEOC.
 
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has deployed 10 conservation officers and five jon boats to assist with evacuations and rescues in Alexander, Pulaski and Saline counties. 
 
  • Four professional engineers from IDNR’s Office of Water Resources are conducting assessments of the levee systems throughout the affected region.
 
  • The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has sent inmate crews to several communities to help fill sandbags.
 
  • The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) transported sandbags, nine six-inch pumps and other equipment to southern Illinois for possible deployment.
 
  • ISP brought in additional officers to provide law enforcement support throughout the affected area.
 
  • ISP pre-staged tactical officers, boats and equipment in southern Illinois for potential rescue missions.
 
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) provide bottled water and portable toilets for ISP’s District 22 office after the water system failed.
 
  • IDPH provided 10 portable toilets to Pulaski County.
 
  • IDPH is monitoring long-term care facilities affected by flooding to ensure the safety of residents.
 
  • IDPH is coordinating with water departments in the region to ensure the public is aware of any water quality issues that may result from the flooding.
 
  • The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is checking with local water treatment and waste water plants throughout the affected area to assess flood impacts and ensure public safety.
 
  • IEPA responded to a flood-related train derailment near West Vienna and assessed environmental impacts.
 
  • The Illinois Department of Human Services has opened a shelter for people affected by the flood at the Choate Mental Health Center in Anna.
 
  • The American Red Cross, a partner with the state during disasters, opened nine shelters to provide mass care, food and shelter to people affected by the flood.  On Wednesday, 67 people spent the night at one of the shelters and 225 meals were served.


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