SPRINGFIELD – With Hurricane Gustav predicted to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast early next week, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today said state emergency management officials are preparing to provide personnel, assets and other support if affected states need assistance.
“Three years ago, Illinois answered the call for help following Hurricane Katrina, sending more than 2,500 response personnel and critical equipment to help Louisiana and Mississippi respond to that massive disaster,” said Governor Blagojevich. “While we hope and pray that this storm won’t be as destructive as Katrina, the state stands ready to assist whenever and wherever we are needed.”
The Governor said so far there have been no requests for assistance from Illinois. Such requests would be channeled through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a mutual aid agreement, signed by all 50 states, that facilitates states assisting other states during emergencies. All Illinois assets provided following Hurricane Katrina were coordinated through the EMAC system.
Officials from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) have been in regular contact with EMAC representatives this week. On Thursday, representatives from several Illinois state agencies met to discuss preparations for a potential response to Hurricane Gustav and review actions taken following Hurricane Katrina. Those representatives are coordinating with their agencies to ensure a quick response if needed.
“Our large-scale deployment of personnel and equipment following Hurricane Katrina demonstrated our capabilities to respond to a major disaster, even one nearly 1,000 miles away,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “It also provided us with many lessons learned and a solid blueprint that we can use if our assistance is needed in response to Hurricane Gustav.”
In 2005, Governor Blagojevich directed the deployment of more than 2,500 Illinois responders to the Gulf Coast, including:
- More than 1,100 Illinois National Guard troops
- Nearly 1,000 firefighters, paramedics and essential fire support equipment
- More than 300 law local, county and state law enforcement officers and equipment
- A 50-member Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) made up of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel
- More than 30 local and state emergency managers
- More than 100 state employees and vital telecommunications equipment
While Illinois’ assistance following Hurricane Katrina was its largest EMAC response to date, the state also provided assistance following several hurricanes in Florida in 2004. At that time, nine emergency responders and more than 160 Illinois Citizen Corps volunteers were deployed for hurricane assistance.