State, local officials monitoring flood conditions in region
The Illinois State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield was directed last week to monitor flood conditions in Southern Illinois.
Gov. JB Pritzker also directed the center to quickly deploy state assets and personnel if local officials request assistance as they battle floodwaters.
Pritzker and Illinois Emergency Management Agency, IEMA, acting director Alicia Tate-Nadeau met with local officials and emergency management officials on Tuesday, Feb. 26, in Massac and Alexander counties as the communities continued to prepare for significant crests on the Ohio River.
State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, and State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, joined the governor and other state officials to survey the flooding situation.
The officials had an up-close look at the flooding situation in Metropolis and Cairo, as well as in rural areas in the 118th District in Southern Illinois.
“I want all of our communities that have been impacted by recent flooding, from Northern Illinois to Southern Illinois, to know we are taking this very seriously,” Pritzker said.
The governor said the state would do everything it could to help communities which are experiencing the extreme flooding conditions.
“It’s important we work together in the days and weeks ahead to keep families safe and protect our communities.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 26, a crew from the Illinois Department of Corrections Shawnee Correctional Center began sandbag operations to aid the flood fight in Alexander County.
Additional sandbags and pumps have also been deployed to Massac County and Alexander County.
IEMA staff have been deployed to Southern Illinois to help local emergency management officials assess the need for state assets or personnel.
The American Red Cross is also working throughout the area assisting residents and attending to the needs of volunteers.
Public safety officials also reminded motorists to be on the lookout for road closure postings.
Residents are urged to avoid areas already flooded and never cross any barriers that are put in place by local emergency officials.
“Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard,” IEMA director Tate-Nadeau said.
“Over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood waters. Please heed the warning from your local officials. Turn around, don’t drown. It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters.”
“Flooding is a major challenge for those of us living in Southern Illinois,” State Rep. Windhorst said.
“The amount of precipitation in the Ohio River basin over the last several months has resulted in rising river levels in our region and flooding for many of our residents.
“The crest is expected to be among the highest on record, but from what I learned today, property damage to this point has been limited to the dozens, rather than the thousands of houses and residents.”
Windhorst vowed to continue to monitor the flooding situation and to stay in close contact with IEMA officials.
“This may be an ongoing issue year after year, as we indeed live in the flood plain of two large rivers,” Windhorst said.
“But, every time that Southern Illinois faces one of these disasters, I am amazed at the teamwork and the results that are produced when the local government units work together with each other and the public to keep people safe, to perform rescues and to ultimately rebuild after damage occurs.”