SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today activated an additional 400 Illinois National Guard troops to assist with flood efforts along the Mississippi River, bringing the total troops engaged in the flood fight to 1,100. A State helicopter and additional rescue personnel are on stand-by for any additional emergency situations such as a levee break.
“As flood waters continue to rise, we are working hard to help keep people safe and reduce damage along the Mississippi River. The Illinois National Guard has been instrumental in this effort by filling sandbags and building protective walls around communities,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We are operating around the clock to ensure communities get the help they need during this critical time.”
The Governor also applauded conservation police officers from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) for assisting with a rescue operation this morning after a levee failed in Henderson County near Gulfport. More than a dozen people who were sandbagging the levee were stranded there until conservation officers and a Medivac helicopter from Iowa rescued them. People stranded on nearby US 34 and in a house in Carman were also rescued.
“Since we had already staged several state resources in the western part of the state, we were able to quickly send rescue assistance to the area,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We are very thankful that no one was injured by this close call, and will continue to work around the clock to try to protect people along the Mississippi River.”
As of this morning, the town of Galesburg is under a boil warning to ensure that residents are following proper water sanitation procedures. The Illinois Department of Public Health is also procuring additional drinking water to send to the City of Galesburg and the Galesburg Correctional Center. Approximately 60,000 gallons will be sent to the Galesburg area and stockpiles of drinking water in Springfield can be deployed to other areas should they need it.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Director Andrew Velasquez III said the preliminary damage assessment process will begin today in the southeastern part of the state with the deployment of a team consisting of staff from IEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The team will begin determining the severity of the damage to homes and businesses starting in Cumberland County today and traveling to Clark, Coles, Crawford, Douglas, Jasper and Lawrence counties over the next several days.
“Following his visit to the flood-impacted area last week, Gov. Blagojevich directed me to do everything possible to help the people whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by this devastating flood,” Velasquez said. “That’s why we’re acting quickly to gather the damage assessment information needed in order to be considered for a federal disaster declaration.”
To date the Governor has declared 17 counties disaster areas, including Adams, Calhoun, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Hancock, Henderson, Jasper, Jersey, Lake, Lawrence, Mercer, Pike, Rock Island and Winnebago.
For the latest information on flooding, shelters, what to do during and after a flood, log onto www.ready.illinois.gov