Death Toll Rises to 6 in Midwest; 7 Counties Declared Emergency Areas

September 16, 2008

Though some flood waters are receding and some residents in the Chicago area able to go home to begin the clean-up, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed on Tuesday, Sept.16, that six people had died in flood related circumstances.

According to the Department of Homeland Security most died in attempts to rescue others. Two men died in Chesteron, Ind. trying to rescue a boy in a drainage ditch and a 28-year-old man died in a retention pond in Arlington Heights Ill. Another man is presumed dead after people heard cries for help in Hickory Creek in the southern suburb of New Lenox, Ill. The latest victim was an 83-year-old man from Oak Lawn who drowned while trying to bail water from his basement window.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who declared Cook County a Emergency area on September 14 has now declared an additional seven counties disaster areas after he toured a Red Cross Shelter for flood victims in Des Plaines, Ill. The counties that have been declared disaster areas including Cook are DuPage, DeKalb, Grundy, Kane, LaSalle and Will.

The Governor issued a statement on September 16.

“Heavy rains over the weekend caused flooding in several parts of northeastern Illinois. The flood waters have caused widespread damage and forced many people from their homes, and today I am declaring Cook and six other counties state disaster areas,” said Governor Blagojevich, who was in constant contact with emergency management officials over the weekend. “I want to assure these affected communities that the state has been in contact with local officials since the rains began to offer any assistance as needed and we will continue to do everything possible to help them quickly recover from this flooding.”

Blagojevich activated the State Emergency Operation Center in Springfield this weekend and directed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to monitor flooding in several parts of the state and coordinate state assistance to local communities.

“Now that the rains have stopped and the waters are beginning to recede in many areas, we will begin working with local emergency management officials to assess the impact and determine how we can help them deal with this flood disaster,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III.

State assistance provided for flood response to date includes:

· 130,000 sandbags, barricades and several water pumps delivered by Illinois Department of Transportation trucks to affected areas

· Two boats and several Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) conservation officers to assist with evacuations, rescues and security

· Flood surveillance crews from IDNR are surveying water levels in streams and rivers and assessing dams

· Two IEMA regional coordinators were deployed to the Cook County Emergency Operations Center this weekend to coordinate requests for state assistance, and additional IEMA staff is being dispatched to the area today.

Insurance Journal spoke to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Patti Thompson. Thompson said no estimates have been made on overall damage for Illinois.

“We need to wait for more of the water to reced to look at damage of individual homes in the areas now declared disaster areas by the governor,” Thompson said. She added that they expected to be able to begin assessments of property later in the week as more affected communities begin to dry out.

ABC-TV,Channel 7, Chicago Tribune, Office of the Governor, State of Illinois, Illinois Emergency Managemet Agency all contributed to this story.

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