SPRINGFIELD – Trucks and workers from as far away as the Wisconsin border will be helping with the massive storm debris cleanup in southern Illinois this week. The workers are part of a recently-formed public works mutual aid organization that was deployed by the State of Illinois to assist local and state public works teams as they clear countless trees and branches downed by severe storms that moved through the region on May 8.
Nearly 30 public works employees, along with 14 dump trucks, other vehicles and equipment, will begin arriving in southern Illinois on Sunday as part of the state’s deployment of the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network (IPWMAN). The IPWMAN provides a formalized system for providing public works assistance to communities following disasters or other situations that require action beyond the normal capabilities of a local agency.
IPWMAN members deploying personnel and equipment to assist with debris cleanup in southern Illinois include Champaign, Macomb, Urbana, Villa Park, Wauconda and Stephenson County. The IPWMAN workers will begin cleanup work on Monday, May 18 and work through Friday, May 22.
“Illinois has the most comprehensive mutual aid system in the country, covering law enforcement, fire services, public health and emergency management,” said Andrew Velasquez III, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). “Now, with the welcomed addition of public works mutual aid, the state is even better equipped to quickly and effectively help communities recover following disasters.”
The IPWMAN was officially organized in early 2009 as a network of local public works, public water, waste water and roads departments to help other communities with personnel, equipment, materials and other resources needed during disasters. The IPWMAN currently has 17 member departments.
“We’re a new organization and we’re very eager to move forward and help our fellow public works agencies in providing for the safety of their communities and to speed their recovery,” said Chris Isbell, IPWMAN president and Stephenson County Engineer. “While we’re still a small organization, one-third of our members are sending manpower and equipment to the clean-up effort in southern Illinois. I’m pleased to be part of an organization that’s willing to step forward and travel hundreds of miles away from home to help other communities in need.”
In addition to the IPWMAN deployment, the state already has a large number of trucks from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) paired with inmate crews from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) assisting with the cleanup. Crews from IDOT and IDOC began work on May 11 with as many as 38 IDOT trucks, 14 IDOT clamshells, two bulldozers and 18 IDOC crews deployed per day. To date, these crews have assisted with cleanups in Carbondale, Murphysboro, Herrin, Marion and Galatia.
Last week, Governor Pat Quinn declared Franklin, Gallatin, Jackson, Randolph, Saline and Williamson counties state disaster areas due to the severe storm.