CHICAGO – April 4, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the state has taken several actions to ensure it is well prepared for the possibility of severe flooding this spring. Officials continue to closely monitor several Illinois waterways, after snow melt and spring rains have contributed to rising water levels.
“This year we faced the worst winter storm in decades and we credit our state’s preparedness for saving lives,” said Governor Quinn. “While we certainly hope we don’t see severe flooding this spring, we’ve taken several steps to ensure we’re ready to respond if it does.”
Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) officials last week completed a series of nine meetings with local officials around the state to discuss flood preparation plans. Nearly 400 emergency managers, levee and drainage districts, local government and elected officials participated in the meetings, which were held in Bridgeport, Harrisburg, Metropolis, Quincy, Wood River, East Dubuque, Savanna, Gladstone and Milan.
During the meetings agency officials outlined measures they’ve already enacted to prepare for possible major flooding as well as plans to support local response agencies if needed. They also listened to issues facing the communities as they prepare for floodwaters.
IEMA has already pre-positioned plastic and more than 2 million sandbags in western Illinois to ensure quick deployment if these items are needed by communities along the Mississippi River for flood-fighting efforts. Another 1 million sandbags remain in reserve at other locations for possible deployment.
“We’re taking a very proactive approach to dealing with the potential for floods this spring,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “By positioning these assets and discussing anticipated needs with our local partners, we can more quickly provide support if conditions get bad.”
Some areas are already experiencing rivers above flood stage. The state has already provided nearly 170,000 sandbags, more than 140 rolls of plastic, 17 pumps and associated hoses to several communities. IEMA also has coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to arrange for seven additional pumps for local flood-fighting. In addition, trucks from the Illinois Department of Transportation have assisted communities with hauling sand to bolster levees, and inmates at the East Moline Correctional Facility are assisting by filling sandbags.
IEMA is working closely with other state agencies, including the Illinois National Guard, which activated approximately 1,600 troops during the June 2008 flooding along the Mississippi River. The Illinois Guard has already identified equipment and personnel to support a flood-relief effort, should the state determine that a National Guard response is needed.
“The Illinois National Guard will stand ready to assist civilian authorities in protecting life and property within the state,” said Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.
Governor Quinn today also recommended that people living and working near rivers and streams be prepared for potential flooding this spring. Flooding is the number one severe weather killer nationwide, with most flood-related fatalities occurring when people in vehicles try to cross a flooded roadway. It’s important for people to remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” when encountering a water-covered road.
More information about flood safety and preparedness is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.