SPRINGFIELD – While touring flooded areas in Adams County today, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced that he has directed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to establish an additional Unified Area Command in the Metro East St. Louis area as the Mississippi River flood waters move south. The Unified Area Command in Quincy will also remain active.
Gov. Blagojevich announced that, beginning Thursday morning, representatives from the Illinois Department of Pubic Health, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois National Guard, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross will be stationed at the Alton Mental Health Center, 4500 College Avenue, in Alton to coordinate life, safety and resource issues for the Metro East area.
The Governor has already declared Madison County, along with 18 other Illinois counties, as state disaster areas making them eligible for a wide array of state resources.
While in the area, the Governor stopped at the Pike County Fairgrounds, where he assisted volunteers and Department of Correction inmates fill sandbags in an effort to reinforce the levee holding back the Mississippi River waters.
At Sny Levee at Pike Station, he visited with volunteers and National Guard soldiers and surveyed sand bagging efforts there, thanking them for their extraordinary efforts.
“We are committed to protecting residents along the Mississippi River and providing help for communities affected by flood waters in areas where levees have broken,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “By establishing a command center in Alton, we will be ahead of the game in dealing with issues in the Metro East area of the state.”
The Lima Lake levee in Adams County broke around 1:30 this morning, followed by the Indian Grave levee at approximately 6:30. People in the City of Warsaw have been evacuated; at this time there are no reports of injury or loss of life, as most of this area is farm land. These became the third and fourth levees on the Mississippi River to fail during the ongoing flooding situation.
To date, the Governor has deployed 1,100 Illinois National Guard troops to assist with sandbagging and other efforts. More than 300 correctional inmates have been working around the clock on sandbagging operations. Other resources being provided during this emergency include conservation police officers and boats from the Illinois Department of National Resources, as well as security detail provided by the Illinois State Police. Trucks and other equipment from the Illinois Department of Transportation are being utilized, Central Management Services is working to procure necessary supplies, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency efforts are concentrated on protecting drinking water supplies and ensuring the integrity of waste water treatment plant operations, and the Illinois Department of Public Health is stockpiling water to ensure communities impacted by the flooding have safe water to drink.
Nine levees have broken so far in Illinois due to flood waters: five levees broke last week in east-central Illinois and now four levees have broken along the Mississippi River.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Director Andrew Velasquez III said the preliminary damage assessment process will continue today in the east-central 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.
To date the Governor has declared 19 counties disaster areas, including: Adams, Calhoun, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Hancock, Henderson, Jasper, Jersey, Knox, Lake, Lawrence, Madison, Mercer, Pike, Rock Island and Winnebago.
For the latest information on flooding, shelters, and what to do during and after a flood, log onto www.ready.illinois.gov.