Flood task force on standby 24-7 to help Alexander, Union Counties

Flood Task Force on standby 24/7

ALEXANDER/UNION COUNTIES, Ill. (KFVS) - Flooding in Alexander County and Union County Illinois is now being monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a special group of emergency responders.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has stationed a Joint Quick Reactionary Task Force in East Cape Girardeau to help with emergency flood fight operations in communities along the Mississippi River.

Three large trucks and six soldiers with the National Guard will be there around the clock it’s reassuring to people like Norma Farris who have seen their neighbors evacuate knowing her family could be next.

“It’s never gotten this close so it’s been a trying time. It’s been a really hard time for us,” Farris said.

Everyday flood water gets closer and closer to Norma Farris’ East Cape Girardeau home, where she has lived for 47-years.

On Thursday June 13, soldiers with the National Guard built a sandbag wall in her backyard and around other homes.

“I told my husband the first thing this morning I said the trucks are pulling in out there. You know help is on the way. It’s here,” Farris said. “We are so appreciative. I could just go hug every one of them because it’s been so sweet and wonderful to have them here.”

The flood task force is overseen by Lt. Jamie Gunning from the 1844 transportation company out of East St. Louis, IL.

Right now Gunning says their focus is monitoring the pressure on the overly saturated levees and the potential of rain causing a flash flood.

“Keep in mind that it’s a precautionary measure," Gunning said. "We’re here to help. We are not trying to force anyone out of their homes, but we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t feel like we needed to provide that assistance.”

Lt. Gunning says their military tactical vehicles can haul 5 tons and work well for search and rescue missions.

“We’ve been using them on this site to move sandbags but we also have the capacity to move civilians," Gunning said. "We can move safely up to 14 people at a time very quickly. We can forge through up to 36 inches of water.”

Farris says it’s a reassuring to know that the task force is close by and can help at a moments notice.

“It’s always been a scary time at night with this water out here," Farris said. “So you can just go to bed and rest and feel so at peace and at ease because you’ve got somebody here watching over you. They’re taking care of us while we’re sleeping.”

You can click here to check flooded road and bridge information.

IEMA and county emergency managers continue to stress the importance of making a family evacuation plan.

The State Emergency Operation Center in Springfield has been mobilized since mid-March to help communities battling flooding along the Illinois, Mississippi Rivers and its tributaries.

The IEMA also has task forces in Hardin, Jerseyville and Valmeyer.

Copyright 2019 KFVS. All rights reserved.