"I'm inspired by the way this community
has pulled together to make sure neighbors are safe and to preserve
endangered buildings and homes. I heard there were nearly 300
students, parents and teachers on hand when the flood hit to help
sandbag the newly renovated Gurnee Grade School," said Gov.
Blagojevich. "I want residents here to know that we will do whatever
we can as a state to help your communities recover."
Record rainfall this spring in
Wisconsin and northern Illinois has led to the highest water level
in the Des Plaines River in two decades. At Gurnee, the river is
considered to be at flood level when it reaches 7 feet. It crested
Tuesday evening at 11.69 feet, just short of the record of 11.95
feet set in 1986.
After viewing the affected areas by
helicopter, Gov. Blagojevich declared all of Lake County as well as
Leyden, Lyons, Maine, Northfield, Proviso and Wheeling townships in
Cook County state disaster areas. The declaration solidifies the
state's commitment to helping with cleanup and allows individual
property owners in the disaster areas to have damaged property
reassessed within one year.
The Illinois Emergency Management
Agency will coordinate with other state agencies to manage cleanup.
As the water recedes, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
and the Department of Public Health will test the local water to
ensure the safety levels of drinking water. The agencies will also
assist with providing vaccinations to workers and the public, if
needed, and helping to dispose of used sandbags after the water
returns to normal levels.
The governor's declaration is also the
first step in enabling the affected communities to apply for federal
disaster assistance. When the water begins to recede, a joint state
and federal preliminary damage assessment will be conducted to
determine whether the extent of damage to homes and businesses and
the costs incurred by local governments during their emergency
response meet the qualifying standards for federal assistance. If
they qualify, the governor will formally ask President Bush to
provide disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management
Agency. A federal declaration may entitle local residents,
businesses and municipalities to financial assistance for cleanup
[to top of second column in
The state has been helping communities
along the Des Plains River with their emergency response since
Sunday, when the Illinois Emergency Management Agency activated the
State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to assess the
situation and coordinate assets that the state can provide to assist
local responders. Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director
William C. Burke and agency staff members went to the area Sunday to
meet with local officials and relay requests for assistance to the
State Emergency Operations Center and have been coordinating efforts
on-site ever since.
--The Illinois Department of
Transportation has provided 580,000 sandbags and three pallets of
plastic sheeting to Lake and Cook counties, two 300-foot barrier
walls to the Des Plaines Fire Department and to River Road in Des
Plaines, and a discharge pump to the Illinois Commerce Commission
building in Des Plaines.
--The Illinois Department of Natural
Resources is providing staff from its Office of Water Resources to
assist the local governments with flood management, while the law
enforcement division is providing conservation police and boats.
--The Illinois State Police is helping
to redirect traffic and secure the perimeter of the scene.
In addition, the American Red Cross has
a shelter set up in Des Plaines, fixed feeding stations in Gurnee,
and is staging 200 cleanup kits, with 500 additional kits on the
has not caused any deaths or serious injuries. State and local
officials reminded residents to use extreme caution near floodwaters
and advised parents to keep their children from playing in or near
floodwaters, as rapid currents can pull them down and carry them
[News release from the