Gov. Pritzker Issues Disaster Declaration Ahead of Severe Winter Storm
SPRINGFIELD - In advance of the anticipated severe winter storm expected to hit the entire state, Governor JB Pritzker today issued a disaster declaration and activated approximately 130 members of the Illinois National Guard to ensure all state resources are available to deal with the heavy snow, ice, and blizzard conditions expected over the coming days. The Governor is directing IEMA to coordinate a robust, statewide response which will include more than 1,800 IDOT trucks and equipment, ISP patrols to help stranded motorists, and approximately 130 members of the Illinois National Guard.
"I'm authorizing a disaster proclamation for Winter Storm Landon, effective immediately, to support local government disaster response and recovery operations wherever necessary. I want to assure county and local officials and everyone in the path of the storm that my administration will provide resources every step of the way," said Governor JB Pritzker. "On the ground, all state assets stand ready to assist. I encourage everyone to do what you can to stay safe: listen to local authorities to stay up to date with the latest conditions in your community and make sure your household has essentials."
IEMA's State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield will be activated to coordinate the state's response to the storm. Representatives from relevant state agencies will staff the SEOC 24 hours a day throughout the storm and quickly deploy resources to impacted communities.
"We're working closely with local emergency management officials throughout the state to monitor conditions and be ready to provide assistance they may need," said Scott Swinford, Deputy Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). "But it's also important that people prepare themselves for this storm with food, water, working flashlights, weather radios, and other necessities."
In response to the storm, the Governor is activating approximately 130 members of the Illinois National Guard to support winter weather operations in central Illinois. The soldiers and airmen will be assigned as winter weather platoons with each platoon consisting of approximately 18 soldiers equipped with six High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) and one Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck Wrecker. The Airmen, from the 182nd Airlift Wing, based in Peoria, will also be equipped with six HMMWVs.
"While most people will be watching this week's weather event unfold from the comfort of their home, the Illinois National Guard will be braving the cold weather and snow alongside local and state first responders as they assist to protect life and property, and alleviate suffering in the communities where they will be assigned," said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard.
The Illinois National Guard will serve as a critical force multiplier for the ISP, who will be deploying teams of troopers to assist stranded motorists across the state. Guard units will initially be deployed to ISP Districts 9 - Springfield, 10 - Pesotum, 18 - Litchfield, 20 - Pittsfield and 21 - Ashkum, helping reduce response times and capacity to reach motorists. From the SEOC, ISP will be monitoring conditions on the ground and shifting personnel based on the trajectory of the storm.
"The men and women of the ISP stand ready to face the challenges mother nature has in store and, like we always do, will rise to the occasion," stated Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly. "The Illinois National Guard will also be standing with us as a force multiplier. With their assistance, service to the public will be greatly augmented, reducing first responder response times to stranded motorists."
Statewide, IDOT will deploy more than 1,800 trucks and equipment to plow, treat roads and respond to weather emergencies. If you encounter a plow or any maintenance vehicle during your travels, please slow down, increase your driving distance and remain patient. Do not attempt to pass - conditions in front of the plow will be worse than behind it. Because of the storm's potential, non-essential travel is strongly discouraged.
"We spend the entire year at IDOT preparing for snow-and-ice season and major events like the one expected in the coming days. All of our available manpower and equipment will be ready to respond and out in force, but we need the public's cooperation as well," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. "During all severe weather, ask yourself if your trip is truly necessary or can be postponed. Anticipate conditions to be treacherous at times, with much longer travel times extending for several days. Be prepared in case you become stranded or if your vehicle breaks down. Please be patient - don't crowd the drivers of plows and emergency vehicles trying to make our roads safer for everyone."
If travel is absolutely necessary, Illinoisans should:
- Drastically reduce speeds and take it slow, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas that are prone to icing.
- Make sure your gas tank is full.
- Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle. Dial *999 in the Chicago area for assistance in case of emergency.
- Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route and schedule.
- Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency.
- If you are involved in a crash or break down, remain inside your vehicle, which is your safest form of shelter. Exiting your vehicle into live traffic can have fatal consequences.
- Always wear a seat belt, whether you're sitting in the front seat or back seat. It's the law. Never get behind the wheel impaired.
For regular updates on statewide road conditions, visit www.gettingaroundillinois.com. For additional information about winter storm preparedness measures and important updates throughout the storm, visit the Ready Illinois website at https://www2.illinois.gov/ready/Pages/default2.aspx.