Governor Declares Disaster After Touring Damage and Meeting with First Responders
HARRISBURG–(ENEWSPF)–February 29, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today issued a state disaster proclamation following a tour of damaged areas in Harrisburg after a tornado devastated parts of southern Illinois Wednesday morning. State resources including the Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Natural Resources were also deployed on the ground to respond to the damage.
“My heart goes out to the victims of this devastating storm, and I would like to thank the many people who have stepped up and volunteered to aid their neighbors,” Governor Quinn said. “I have met with local community leaders and first responders, and they know the state of Illinois is here to help as they recover from this disaster.”
The disaster declaration issued by Governor Quinn today covers the southern-third of Illinois and will ensure that state resources and personnel are available to assist with response and recovery efforts.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to our neighbors in and around Harrisburg today as we learn of the devastation that hit the region early this morning,” Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said. “I will continue to work diligently to coordinate state and local disaster relief efforts and bring aid and support to this community.”
Simon said the Red Cross Little Egypt Network is coordinating volunteer efforts and accepting monetary donations to aid in disaster relief efforts. The Little Egypt chapter can be contacted at (618) 529-1698, and donations can be sent to the chapter office at 665 North Airport Road, Murphysboro, IL 62966.
Shortly after the storm this morning, Governor Quinn directed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to activate the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield. IEMA personnel and several other state agencies are coordinating at the SEOC and continue to assess the impact of the storms.
“The focus of the state right now is to coordinate with local emergency response officials in the affected areas to determine what state resources are needed for response and recovery from the storms,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.
IEMA regional personnel were deployed to Harrisburg soon after the storms and representatives from the Illinois State Police, departments of Transportation, Central Management Services, Corrections, Public Health and Natural Resources, along with the American Red Cross, reported to the SEOC soon thereafter. The SEOC will remain activated as long as necessary.
State resources on the ground in the affected storm areas include:
- Illinois Department of Transportation(IDOT) – helicopter to assist with damage assessment
- 35 IDOT employees and equipment in Harrisburg assisting with access control
- 60-90 additional IDOT employees on stand-by
- Illinois State Police – 20 troopers assisting with security and access control
- Department of Natural Resources – five Conservation Police Officers assisting with search and rescue/security
March 1 marks the beginning of Severe Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois. IEMA has a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide on the Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov) that provides information on how to stay safe when severe storms and tornadoes approach.