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July 22, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich adds Clinton and Jefferson counties to the state disaster declaration
Top State Disaster Response Officials discuss coordinated response and cleanup efforts after Metro East storms devastate area

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today declared Clinton and Jefferson counties in southwestern Illinois as state disaster areas, following yesterday’s declaration for St. Clair and Madison counties. The Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety Jill Morgenthaler and the Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Bill Burke held a briefing in St. Clair County today to discuss the state’s response and clean-up efforts, and new steps being taken to get affected communities back to normal after two storm systems caused significant destruction to the Metro East area on Wednesday and again on Friday. “Our state emergency personnel are continuing to work closely with county and local emergency service agencies around the clock in the Metro East area to help restore power and get things back to normal as soon as possible,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “With today’s declarations for Clinton and Jefferson counties, we will be able to help those communities get the support and resources they’ll need to recover from the damage and devastation left by this week’s storms.” After the Wednesday storms, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and county Emergency Services and Disaster agencies worked with the local Red Cross to establish cooling centers in the area. When the Friday storms swept through the Metro East area, they caused additional damage to areas just beginning to recover. They then continued on a southeastern path through Southern Illinois, hitting several communities in its path hard. • State Damage Assessment Teams were dispatched to identify the areas of greatest need and to evaluate the damage. Their assessments are ongoing, but preliminary assessment observations indicate that most of the problems are related to power outages, and damage to sources of drinking water. Excessive heat has been a serious problem, until last night when temperatures dropped from the high levels of earlier in the week. • The Illinois State Police provided assistance to local law enforcement at cooling centers in East St. Louis last night, and the Governor has put the Illinois LEAS (Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, the state’s law enforcement mutual aid organization) on notice in case additional support is requested. • Power has begun to be restored, but nearly 100,000 customers in southwestern Illinois are still without power as of this morning. • Water pressure has been restored in most of the region; however, boil orders remain in place to ensure that the drinking water supply is safe. Among the highest-priority response effort is ensuring safe drinking water. Area-wide power failures have affected public water supply distribution systems, resulting in loss of water pressure, and opening the distribution systems to possible contamination. At one point, around 300,000 were affected by loss of a safe drinking water supply. • The ConocoPhillips refinery also suffered a power outage, causing a shutdown. In order to get the refinery back on line and avoid a fuel shortage in the region, Gov. Blagojevich last night ordered the IEPA to expedite the review process for permits needed to install temporary cooling towers at the refinery – a process that can take 90 days under normal circumstances. Illinois EPA has received a permit application to install the towers, and is giving the review a top priority. • Governor Rod R. Blagojevich activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield yesterday to coordinate state response efforts to the storm-ravaged Metro East. The Governor also dispatched the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s Unified Area Command, or UAC, vehicle to the Metro East. The UAC is providing coordinated assistance with the recovery efforts in the entire region. Government agencies continue to focus on life safety issues and keeping those without power safe. IEMA and other state agencies, including the Illinois Departments of Transportation and Corrections stand ready to assist in cleanup efforts if requested to do so.


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