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May 24, 2004

State readies response capabilities to assist with flooding

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today said the state of Illinois is providing needed assistance to communities in Lake and Cook counties battling floods on the Des Plaines and Fox rivers.
“Once again, we find ourselves facing the challenges of nature, this time with floods in Lake and Cook counties that are expected to exceed historical levels in some places,” Blagojevich said.  “The state is providing continual support to the emergency agencies in both counties, who are doing an exemplary job battling the rising waters.  And we will continue to provide any assistance they need, whenever they need it.”
On Sunday, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield to assess the situation and coordinate assets that the state can provide to assist local responders.  IEMA Director William C. Burke and other IEMA staff members went to the area Sunday to meet with local officials and relay requests for assistance to the SEOC, and remain on scene at this time.
To help with sandbagging efforts, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) transported 200,000 sandbags to the area on Sunday and an additional 200,000 are being sent to the area on Monday.  Illinois State Police officers are assisting with traffic congestion caused by closed flooded roadways.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has staff working in the area, including officers with johnboats assisting local officials with patrols.  The department’s Division of Water Resources is tracking the rising waters and precipitation projections to help local and state officials assess the floods’ potential impacts.
Residents in these areas are reminded to use extreme caution near flood waters, as flooding is the number one severe weather killer nationwide.  Most flood victims are killed while attempting to drive on a flooded roadway, and a mere two feet of water can carry away most automobiles. 
Parents are also advised to keep their children from playing in or near floodwaters, as rapid currents can pull them down and carry them away.
IEMA officials also ask that people who do not live in the area stay out of the area so that they do not endanger themselves and add to traffic congestion.


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