SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today declared six southeastern Illinois counties state disaster areas due to widespread flooding and severe storms that have forced evacuations and closed roadways. The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from flooding. Counties included in the Governor’s declaration are Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Jasper and Lawrence.
“Heavy rainfall last week, coupled with exceptionally wet weather in May and June, is causing many rivers and streams to rise above flood stage, threatening homes, businesses, water supply systems and other critical infrastructure,” 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 such things as trucks, heavy equipment and work crews to speed debris removal, and assistance with security and other public safety issues.
Earlier Tuesday, levees on the Embarras and the Wabash rivers failed, sending floodwaters into areas east of Lawrenceville and the Westport area. Two IEMA regional coordinators are on site to coordinate local requests for state assistance. Local requests for state assistance received and filled at this point include:
Assistance from conservation police officers from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) with the evacuation of 14 people on Monday in Lawrence County
Resident safety checks conducted Monday night and Tuesday morning by IDNR officers.
A flyover in an Illinois State Police (ISP) airplane Tuesday morning to assess the extent of the flooding.
ISP officers are on site to assist with safety issues.
“While we’re very fortunate that Illinois hasn’t been hit as severely as some other Midwestern states, the flooding in southeastern Illinois is devastating to everyone affected and we’re prepared to provide these counties with any state assets and personnel they need to respond and recover from this event,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III.