LAWRENCEVILLE – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today visited Lawrenceville, as Southeastern Illinois continues to cope with floodwaters from recent rains, with more rain in the forecast today. On June 10, 2008, the governor declared Lawrence and 5 other Southeast Illinois counties disaster areas as a result of the extensive flooding.
The Governor met with local officials and state responders at Parkside Elementary School after touring the region where the Wabash and Embarras rivers have been at or above flood stage for days. The Illinois Department of Public Health has been using the Parkside Elementary School as a distribution site for residents who have had their potable water compromised by the flood waters.
“In spite of the fact that neighborhoods have endured extensive damage and lives have been disrupted, the people here have come together to help each other through this difficult time,” said the Governor. “We will continue to make sure that adequate State resources are available and assist in any way we can to protect the health of people affected by the flooding.”
The state continues to support flood-impacted areas in six southeastern Illinois counties. The Illinois State Police (ISP) and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police are continuing to visit individual homes in flood areas to check on the welfare of residents, and to assist stranded citizens with evacuation.
Liaisons from numerous state agencies are coordinating services from the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield so they can quickly respond to requests for state assistance from local emergency managers. The SEOC also has other state assets and personnel that are ready to be quickly deployed where needed.
Officials from the IDNR Office of Water Resources are closely monitoring river levels and precipitation forecasts for Illinois and its neighboring states. Water experts are coordinating with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to determine what measures can be taken to protect communities where floodwaters could hit.
On Tuesday, Gov. Blagojevich declared six southeastern Illinois counties state disaster areas due to widespread flooding. 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.
The State of Illinois has personnel and assets that can be mobilized to help local government officials with disaster recovery—including such materiel as trucks, heavy equipment and work crews to speed debris removal, and assistance with security and other public safety issues.
State assistance provided this week to the Lawrence County area communities to help with their flood efforts includes:
· Two IEMA regional coordinators on site in Lawrence County to coordinate local requests for state assistance following levee breaks on the Embarras and Wabash rivers Tuesday. (Other IEMA regional coordinators are in close contact with their local emergency management officials to assess conditions and determine if state assistance may be needed).
· 14,000 gallons of water are on hand in Lawrence County and 2,725 gallons have been distributed to date.
· Conservation police officers from the IDNR have assisted with evacuations in Lawrence County and conducted resident safety checks.
· An ISP airplane was used to conduct a flyover in Lawrence County to assess the extent of the flooding.
· ISP officers are on site in Lawrence County to assist with safety issues.