Gov. Pritzker activates Illinois National Guard for flood relief

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has activated approximately 200 Illinois National Guard soldiers for State Active Duty to assist with the state’s ongoing flood fight operations.

Pritzker is also urging residents in affected communities to listen to the directions of first responders.

“As we face historic weather in this state, the safety of our communities will always be my top priority, and every relevant state agency is working in concert to protect communities,” said Pritzker. “This morning, I activated the two hundred members of the Illinois National Guard to regions along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to assist in sandbagging operations and levee monitoring and reinforcement, with another 200 on standby.”

“We have deployed more than two million sandbags, hosted multi-agency resources centers in impacted communities, and I issued a disaster declaration impacting 34 counties,” the governor continued. “My administration will continue using every tool at our disposal to protect impacted Illinoisans.”

Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 123 Field Artillery Regiment were notified of the activation Wednesday night and began reporting to their units in Milan, Galesburg and Springfield on Thursday. The soldiers will help strengthen levees and construct protective barriers in flooded areas. The soldiers will be ready to deploy to affected areas by Friday.

“The Illinois National Guard is a community-based organization, and when our communities need help we answer the call. As they do to answer they do when they deploy to fight their nations wars, they are leaving families and jobs behind to help their fellow citizens,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, The Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “These guardsmen will assist the residents of impacted areas and help protect the communities from further damage.”

Pritzker is activating a small team of Illinois National Guard planners to augment the Illinois Emergency Management Agency staff as well. 

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is also urging residents in river communities to prepare for potential evacuations. 

The IEMA said this is the longest-lasting flood event since the Great Flood of 1927. Due to prolonged flooding and recent precipitation, levee saturation levels in critical condition along the Illinois River.

Emergency Management officials and first responders are advising residents in river communities to have a family evacuation-plan in place, in the event you need to evacuate due to rising floodwaters.  

“This a life-safety issue,” said Acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “If the river overtops our levees, or breaches our levees, it is not just your homes that will be impacted.  Critical transportation corridors will be impacted. The roads residents need to take to get to work, the grocery store or the doctor will be impacted.  The time to act is now.”

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