Metro-East News

Rauner activates Guard, says Illinoisans’ flood response ‘heartwarming’

Rauner tours flood damage

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner tours flood damage on Friday.
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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner tours flood damage on Friday.

UPDATE 8:05 p.m.: The body of one of two Christian County teens missing in floodwaters was discovered Friday.

The body of Devan R. Everett, 18, was found in the water north of where dive crews located the pickup he and 18-year-old Brandon Mann were riding in earlier in the week, according to the Springfield State Journal-Register. The truck the two teens were last seen in was found Thursday evening about 5 miles north of Taylorville, in about 17 feet of water.

Crews were still searching Friday in boat and on foot for Mann.

Everett and Mann were last seen at Mann’s house on Monday, Taylorville police said. Divers concentrated their search in the flooded areas around Sangchris Lake and Pawnee, which is where Mann’s wireless phone was tracked around 12:20 a.m. Tuesday.

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UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: The governor’s stops at Chester and Menard Correctional Center:

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UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: The governor’s stops in Randolph County and Prairie du Rocher:

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UPDATE 3:00 p.m.: Shelters in Madison County are seeing the number of people seeking refuge from flooding shrink as the waters recede.

Red Cross leaders said as many as 67 people spent the night in a flood shelter at the Nameoki Methodist Church on Pontoon Road in Granite City in the immediate aftermath of flooding earlier in the week. But by Friday, the number dwindled to 10-15.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner visited the Granite City shelter following a tour of two flooded mobile home parks in Pontoon Beach. Many residents of the mobile home parks ended up at the Red Cross shelter.

“The good news is that the water has come down quite a bit in the last day,” Rauner told shelter residents. He said utility companies are working to get power restored as the last of the water is removed, and that the victims will be allowed to go home as soon as it’s safe.

Rauner was on a tour of the 12 Illinois counties he declared disaster areas because of flooding. He said the damage was devastating, but it was “heartwarming” and “inspirational” to see so many volunteers come forward to help the people who lost so much in the flooding.

Rauner said while things are getting better in Madison County, they’re getting worse in the southernmost counties in the state. He said the National Weather Service has predicted that water will crest two feet higher than initially expected there. The difference was enough to send water spilling over the top of levees in the area.

“There was sandbagging going on there,” Rauner said. “But when we got the new forecast, that changed into getting people out.”

On Friday afternoon, Mitchell School kindergarten teacher Amanda Wilson sat in the Granite City shelter, reading books and doing puzzles with children who were happy to see her familiar face from school.

“There is a lot of pressure on parents who are trying to get their households back together,” Wilson said. “So I thought I could help out by spending some time with the kids and allowing their parents to deal with the other things that are on their minds for a little bit.”

Rauner said he planned to spend Friday night in DuQuoin before heading heading to other flooded parts of the state. He said his staff was working with the federal government to try to get as much aid as possible for families put out of their homes by flood waters.

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UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: Gov. Bruce Rauner in Pontoon Beach:

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UPDATE 12:40 p.m.: Gov. Bruce Rauner has activated the Illinois National Guard to support flood-fighting efforts in Southern Illinois.

Rauner said he has ordered Illinois National Guard soldiers to state active duty to augment local efforts to save lives and mitigate flood damage.

Approximately 20 soldiers from the 2-130th Infantry Battalion, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team were ordered to report to the Illinois Army National Guard’s Marion Readiness Center early on New Year’s Day.

In addition, an Illinois Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter with hoist capability has been placed on standby. The helicopter and crew is part of an aviation battalion based out of the Illinois Army National Guard flight facility at Midway Airport in Chicago.

“Local communities continue to battle rising flood waters and the state stands ready to assist as needed,” Rauner said. “Activating these Illinois National Guard Soldiers is a prudent step should they be needed at a moment’s notice by local communities as flood waters are expected to continue to rise in some areas through the weekend.”

The National Guard members will stand ready to assist local authorities in securing flooded areas and in checking on the health and welfare of local citizens. The helicopter and its four-soldier crew will help with evacuation efforts, if needed.

Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes Jr., the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, said: “Although this activation is precautionary at this point, I’m proud of the Illinois National Guard service members and their families who are so willing to assist their fellow citizens at any time. These troops and their families live the National Guard motto of being Always Ready, Always There.”

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UPDATE 12:10 p.m.: Gov. Bruce Rauner is in the region to survey flooding:

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UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: While flood waters in the metro-east are starting to recede, leaders of the American Red Cross said they’re still in the early stages of providing relief.

Cindy Erickson, CEO for the American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri, which covers the St. Louis area and southwestern Illinois, said not only will multiple shelters remain open for the foreseeable future, other shelters remain on standby to be activated if needed.

“Right now, with reports that the water is starting to go down, we’re taking a deep breath,” Erickson said. “But it’s still a tough situation with many residents under evacuation. It’s especially tough when things like this happen at this time of year.”

Erickson said the Red Cross has provided 448 overnight stays and more than 13,000 meals and snacks to people affected by flooding.

“The Red Cross is still very actively engaged,” Erickson said. “The good news is the population of our shelters is going down. But we don’t know yet how long it will take for everyone to get back into their homes. And it’s not until that happens that the disaster assessment can begin and we can help people with individual recovery plans.”

LaTonya Bell said she has been out of her mobile home on Lake Drive in Pontoon Beach since Sunday, her birthday.

A boat arrived at her front door as the water in Bell’s living room reached a foot deep, and she was told she had to leave everything behind except for her four kids and the clothes on their backs.

“We’re hoping we’re going to be able to get back in there Wednesday or Thursday of next week to see what we have left,” Bell said. “We’re very thankful to have the shelter, meals and other supplies. But it’s tough to have little kids and no privacy.”

Bell’s kids are 1, 5 and 16-year-old twins. She said a man complained last night because the baby wouldn’t stop crying when the lights were turned out at 10 p.m.

“It’s just hard,” Bell said. “We’re looking forward to being able to go home.”

Red Cross leaders said 183 overnight stays have been provided in Madison County with 1,175 meals and 2,800 snacks served.

To donate to the flood relief effort or volunteer, go to http://www.redcross.org.

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UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: An all-time high-water mark is now expected in southeast Missouri's Cape Girardeau, with the rising water damaging homes, threatening a power substation, and forcing a neighboring small town to become an island, at least for a few days.

The National Weather Service now expects the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau to top out on Sunday at a foot-and-a-half above the 1993 record. The community of nearly 40,000 residents is mostly protected by a flood wall, but a couple of dozen homes have been damaged.

Meanwhile, floodwaters were surrounding the nearby town of Allenville. The 30 or some homes were mostly dry, but access was cut off. Cape Girardeau County emergency management director Richard Knaup says 40 of the 46 residents decided to stay, using boats to get around.

Sandbags were placed on top of a levee surrounding an Ameren Corp. substation near Cape Girardeau in hopes of keeping it dry.

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UPDATE 11:05 a.m.: River level update:

 

The Mississippi River has crested at 42.5ft, the Kaskaskia is projected to crest tomorrow with an additional 1.6ft increase prior to the crest.

Posted by St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency on Friday, January 1, 2016

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UPDATE 11 a.m.: Illinois Department of Corrections inmates helping with sand-bagging today:

 

This crew of IL Dept. of Corrections offenders in Olive Branch (Alexander Co.) is one of 13 offender crews assisting...

Posted by Illinois Emergency Management Agency on Friday, January 1, 2016

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UPDATE 10:45 a.m.: Sandbagging efforts are underway in the tiny town of St. Mary, Missouri, after the breach of a Mississippi River levee.

The small levee in Ste. Genevieve County, about 40 miles south of St. Louis, broke Thursday night. The river was expected to crest in that area Saturday about 3 ½ feet below the record set in 1993.

The levee break mostly impacts agricultural land, but water was approaching St. Mary, a town of about 360 residents. Neighbors and volunteers were placing sandbags around endangered homes. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Ste. Genevieve, a historic French village dating to the 18th century, remained dry thanks to a levee.

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UPDATE 10:25 a.m.: The latest from Missouri Department of Transportation:

I-44 is open in both directions in St. Louis. All interstates in Missouri are now open.

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UPDATE 10:20 a.m.: Anheuser-Busch has provided 3,528 cases of emergency drinking water — or 84,672 cans — for use by St. Louis-area and Oklahoma residents affected by flooding and storms.

Anheuser-Busch distributors are working with the American Red Cross and local agencies to distribute the water to those in need; 32,928 cans have been delivered to Imperial, Mo., and 51,744 cans are en route to Oklahoma City and McAlester, Okla.

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UPDATE 10:15 a.m.: Members of the Missouri National Guard are providing security and filling sandbags during the flood, but they're also purifying water.

A water plant failed in the St. Louis-area town of High Ridge this week after flooding from the Meramec River swamped the plant. The Missouri National Guard brought in two systems that can produce 30,000 gallons of purified water per day.

But Steve Danner, the adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, says more help is needed, so he asked the Iowa National Guard to also assist with the water purification effort. The Iowa guard is expected to bring in a third purification system.

It wasn't clear when the High Ridge water plant would be operating again.

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UPDATE 10:10 a.m.: In central Illinois, authorities have continued their search for two missing teenagers last seen Monday.

Divers have concentrated their search in flooded areas where one of the teen's cellphone was tracked. The Springfield State Journal-Register reports the pickup they were last seen in was pulled from floodwaters late Thursday.

The search was taking place near Kincaid, in Christian County.

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UPDATE 8:40 a.m.: The latest from the Coast Guard:

  • Upper Mississippi River closed between mile markers 184 and 179 near St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Illinois River closed between mile markers 0 to 50 from Hardin, Illinois to Grafton, Illinois.

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UPDATE 8:30 a.m.: Here’s Illinois Department of Transportation’s live road-closure map:

And here’s the latest road-closure report from IDOT:

  • Chester Bridge (IL-150) is closed in Chester, IL (Randolph County) due to flooding. MODOT is handling the closure.
  • US-67 in Alton at IL-100 Broadway is closed due to flooding.
  • Il-3 at Nine Mile Creek (13.5 miles South of Red Bud) between Mimosa Dr. and Dew Drop Rd is closed due to water over roadway.
  • IL 100 is closed between US-67 and IL-16 due to flooding. (Calhoun/Madison County)
  • Brussels Ferry is closed due to flooding of Rt-100. (Calhoun County)
  • IL-3 at the Truck By-Pass in Randolph Co. is closed due to the rising Mississippi River.
  • IL-3 closed from the Randolph/Jackson County line to Chester, IL due to flooding.
  • SB US-67 from Clark Bridge to IL-143 closed due to flooding. (Madison County)
  • Kaskaskia Street in front of the Menard Prison closed due to flooding. (Randolph County)
  • IL-155 is closed at Prairie Du Rocher due to flooding. (Randolph County)
  • IL-100 at RT-96 junction closed due to flooding. (Calhoun County)
  • IL-3 is closed from County Highway 2 to the Cove Levy Gate due to flooding. (Randolph County)
  • IL-3 is closed at East Broadway Street in Alton due to the levy district closing the flood gates. (Madison County)
  • Il-100 in Alton to pearl is closed through traffic. due to flooding
  • IL-3 is closed at IL-100 due to flooding.
  • Il-143 is closed between I-255 & Wesley due to flooding

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UPDATE 8:20 a.m.: Gov. Bruce Rauner was scheduled to be in the metro-east region today to tour flood-damaged areas.

His scheduled stops:

  • 10 a.m. in Grafton, City Hall and Aerie’s Restaurant
  • 11 a.m. in Alton, tour flooded areas with mayor
  • 1 p.m. in Pontoon Beach, tour flooded areas with mayor
  • 2:30 p.m. in Prairie du Rocher, meet with local officials and tour flooded areas.
  • 2:55 p.m. in Evansville, City Hall
  • 4:15 p.m. in Chester, Randolph County Courthouse

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Interstate 55 has been opened in both directions at the Meramac River, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The highway was closed for more than a day due to heavy flooding. It reopened at just before 8 a.m. Friday.

While traffic is flowing in the interstate lanes, some I-55 on and off-ramps remained closed Friday morning in the Meramac River area.

Interstate 44 remains closed from Interstate 270 in St. Louis to Route 100 in Gray Summit. MoDot leaders said Friday morning that they hope I-44 will be reopened sometime later Friday.

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