SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS) - The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is initiating sandbagging operations to help communities along the Illinois River fight flooding.
The National Weather Service is forecasting major river flooding over the next several days for parts of the Illinois River, as well as moderate to minor flooding along nine other rivers in the state.
As of Thursday, May 21, four counties have declared local disaster declarations. The governor also issued a state disaster proclamation for Grundy, Pike, Scott and Morgan Counties.
Governor JB Pritzker activated nearly 60 Illinois National Guard soldiers for State Active Duty to help with the state’s response efforts.
Governor Pritzker said all guardsmen will be tested for COVID-19 before deployment into the communities. Additionally, they will be issued PPE to use while working in conditions where they cannot appropriately implement social distancing procedures, and they will be housed in the community to ensure the virus is not being brought into the affected communities.
The Department of Corrections started sandbagging operations at three facilities: Jacksonville, Mt. Sterling and Pittsfield. According to the governor’s office, the facilities are currently free of COVID-19.
While IDOC facilities remain on lockdown, protocols have been put in place, including: initiating a social distancing workflow, issuing PPE to workers and limiting people going in and out of the facility.
The Illinois Department of Transportation will be assisting local authorities by delivering truckloads of sand and filled sandbags to the affected areas. All drivers were instructed to wear appropriate PPE while working in a flood operation environment.
Also, county emergency managers are working with local health departments to put forth guidance to protect those working to build up local levees. That guidance includes daily temperature checks, social distancing, issuing PPE to workers and reassigning at-risk workers to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.