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May 27, 2004

Governor Blagojevich declares Morgan, Pike, Scott and Hardin counties state disaster areas

SPRINGFIELD, Il – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today declared the west central Illinois counties of Morgan, Pike and Scott, and Hardin County in southern Illinois state disaster areas after the four counties suffered extensive damage from severe storms and tornadoes that hit the areas this week.
“Residents throughout the state continue to feel the brunt of volatile weather this spring,” Blagojevich said.  “This week, storms seriously disrupted the lives of many people in Jacksonville, Pittsfield and Winchester, and just yesterday people in Cave-in-Rock found themselves faced with considerable storm damage.  The cleanup after these storms is a tremendous strain on these communities, and we want to help them in their time of need.”
Legislators from the storm-ravaged counties joined the Governor as he made his announcement, including state Sens. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville), John Sullivan (D-Quincy) and Gary Forby (D-Benton); and state Reps. Art Tenhouse (R-Quincy), Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville), and Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg).
Severe storms and tornadoes blew through west central Illinois late Monday evening.  Initial assessments of damages in the three west central Illinois counties found more than 330 homes, businesses or other structures in the three counties suffered storm damage, including eight homes and seven businesses that were destroyed in the Morgan County city of Jacksonville. 
A mobile home in Winchester, in Scott County, also was destroyed.  A woman living in the mobile home was the storm’s only fatality.  In Pittsfield, in Pike County, 180 homes were damaged by the storms, including two homes that were destroyed.  One Pittsfield business was destroyed and John Woods Community College also suffered damage.
At Cave-in-Rock in Hardin County, a tornado moved through Wednesday, damaging 18 homes and downing many power lines and trees.
The disaster declaration enables the state to assist communities with after-storm cleanup, including providing Illinois Department of Transportation trucks and equipment and Illinois Department of Corrections work crews to speed debris removal efforts.
Blagojevich cautioned Illinois citizens to remain alert during spring weather and to take cover when severe storms approach.  “While we certainly hate to see people’s homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, those things can be replaced – our lives and those of our loved ones cannot.”
Information about severe weather preparedness can be found on the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s website at www.state.il.us/iema or by calling (217) 785-0229.

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