SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today directed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to coordinate with local emergency management officials in southeastern Illinois to ensure public safety after levee breaks along the Embarras and Wabash rivers forced the evacuation of people in the Lawrenceville and Westport areas.
“I’ve directed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to work closely with local officials to make sure they get whatever assistance necessary to protect people in this area,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Early Tuesday morning, levees on the Embarras and the Wabash River broke sending flood waters into areas east of Lawrenceville and the Westport area. IEMA dispatched a regional coordinator to the area to work with local emergency management officials and determine if state assistance is needed. Conservation police officers from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) assisted with the evacuation of 14 people yesterday in Lawrence County and conducted welfare checks throughout the night and this morning. In addition, officers from the Illinois State Police (ISP) are assisting with safety issues, and an ISP airplane was used this morning to conduct a flyover of the area to assess the extent of the flooding.
Following heavy rains over the past week, floodwaters have risen along several rivers in Illinois. IEMA officials are in close contact with emergency managers in several counties to determine needs for state assistance. In addition to the assistance provided in Lawrence County, state emergency response assets have been provided to the following counties to aid in their flood assistance efforts:
Cass County – a crew of six inmates from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) sent to assist with sandbagging.
Mercer County – pumps from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
Menard County – pumps from IDOT
Douglas County – 30 barricades to assist with traffic control.