Governor J.B. Pritzker has called up roughly 200 guard soldiers as near record crests are predicted along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The soldiers are being deployed to perform duties like sandbagging, levee reinforcement and potential rescue efforts.
“We need residents to be vigilant and ready to respond. If you live in a river community, especially in Calhoun, or Jersey or Greene, Scott, Morgan or Cass counties, the time to prepare is right now," he said.
Pritzker says those residents should be prepared to evacuate if necessary. Several roads and bridges have been closed and more could be shut down due to rising water.
The governor issued a disaster declaration involving 34 counties. He added state officials have been in contact with FEMA and will ask for federal assisstance.
Alicia Tate-Nadeau is the Acting Director of the state’s Emergency Management Agency. She says the wet spring has created big problems, with near record crests predicted.
"Our levees are oversaturated. As I mentioned, we’ve had 80 days of rain. We’ve had 12 days of severe weather in a row which is unusual for us. The recent rains have added insult to what we’ve already seen.”
Those who live along the rivers, especially in west central and southwest Illinois, are being told to prepare for possible evacuations.
The biggest concern as of Thursday is Calhoun County, particularly around the Illinois river community of Hardin, where a state of emergency has been declared. But Tate-Nadeau said flooding is an issue from north to south in Illinois.