SPRINGFIELD – To bolster Illinois’ emergency response coordination, two counties in the state have been selected to receive federal grants totaling more than $1.14 million. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for selecting LaSalle and Madison counties to receive funding that will help them build or renovate critical emergency response centers.
“Emergency operations centers play an important role in coordinating response activities during a disaster, whether it be a small, local disaster or a major disaster that involves local, state and federal response agencies,” said Governor Blagojevich. “These grants will strengthen the level of preparedness in these counties and throughout the state.”
On Thursday, DHS announced 22 grants totaling nearly $14.6 million from the Fiscal Year 2008 Emergency Operations Center Grant Program. LaSalle County will receive $956,250 to construct an emergency operations center, while Madison County will receive $187,666 for renovations to its emergency operations center. In all, grants were awarded in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Only Illinois and Texas had two grant awards; the others received only one grant to either a county or the state/district.
Emergency Operations Centers serve as decision-making and coordination hubs during emergencies by allowing multiple response agencies to gather together to share disaster intelligence, maintain situational awareness and maximize the delivery of emergency assistance to jurisdictions impacted by disasters.
Staff from the Illinois Terrorism Task Force encouraged local emergency management organizations to apply for the federal funding and reviewed the nearly two dozen applications before forwarding them to the federal government for consideration.
“The State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield was key to our successful response to major flooding this June,” said Andrew Velasquez III, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. “Bringing decision-makers under one roof to work in close coordination enabled us to swiftly react to changing conditions. Local emergency operations centers are equally important, and we’re very happy that two Illinois counties will receive funding that will enhance their response capabilities.”
In 2003, Illinois received a $9.3 million DHS grant for construction of a new State Emergency Operations Center. That represented the second largest grant awarded in the nation under that one-time program. The 50,000 square foot facility, which opened in October 2005, houses the State of Illinois Response Center, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s 24-hour communications center, the Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center and the Radiological Emergency Assessment Center.