SPRINGFIELD – During his third visit in a week to flooded sites along the Mississippi River in western Illinois, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that he is asking President Bush to speed aid to people and communities devastated by flooding in more than 20 Illinois counties. The Governor made the announcement while visiting with emergency workers and volunteers during stops in the Metro East area and Quincy.
“I’ve seen firsthand the growing magnitude of this flooding disaster, and unfortunately the end is not yet in sight,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “There is no doubt in my mind that federal assistance is a necessity to help people get back on their feet and start the road to recovery. We also urgently need federal assistance to help communities up and down the Mississippi River and elsewhere in the state recover from the staggering cost of this flood fight and the massive cleanup work still to come. I urge President Bush to quickly approve my request so the recovery process can begin.”
Gov. Blagojevich sent a letter to the President today requesting expedited federal disaster assistance that would speed help to people in the form of temporary housing and grants or loans to help with flood losses. He also asked for assistance for state and local governments that have already incurred extraordinary costs for flood fight efforts and that expect to spend even more for cleanup and recovery work once floodwaters recede. Counties included in his request for federal assistance are: Adams, Calhoun, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, Jasper, Jersey, Lake, Lawrence, Madison, Mercer, Pike, Rock Island, St. Clair and Winnebago.
Normally, states must wait until floodwaters recede to conduct damage assessments before requesting federal assistance. However, given the extent of the flooding and expectations that many areas could be inaccessible for damage assessments for several weeks, Gov. Blagojevich determined an expedited disaster declaration was needed to rush aid to people and flood-impacted communities.
In Alton, Gov. Blagojevich toured the state’s Unified Area Command (UAC), which the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) established at the Alton Mental Health Center. More than two dozen representatives from state and federal agencies are coordinating flood response efforts in the Metro East area from the UAC, which began operations Thursday. For example, the UAC is coordinating an extensive sandbagging mission in nearby Hamburg, in Calhoun County, where the state has deployed a mobile command vehicle, an Illinois Transportable Emergency Communications System (ITECS), a decontamination unit, an Incident Management Team, dozens of inmates from the Illinois Department of Corrections, 100 soldiers from the Illinois National Guard and trucks and heavy equipment from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
More than 230 Illinois National Guard troops have been pre-positioned in the Metro East area as part of the state’s support for local flood fighting activities. Altogether, nearly 1,400 Illinois Army and Air National Guard members are supporting operations along the Mississippi River, including 1,100 soldiers and airmen supporting sandbagging operations along the levees of the Mississippi and more than 300 personnel supporting task force operations.
The Governor also stopped in Quincy today to thank Illinois National Guard troops for their role in the State’s action this morning in sending 25,000 filled sandbags to Clarksville, Missouri to help the valiant fight to protect that town of about 500 residents along the Mississippi River. The sandbags were loaded onto 10 Illinois Department of Transportation trucks by soldiers from the Illinois National Guard stationed in Quincy for the 45-minute trip south to Clarksville. Gov. Blagojevich said Illinois received a request for help from the State of Missouri through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
For the latest information on flooding, shelters, what to do during and after a flood, log onto www.ready.illinois.gov