Morgan, Scott, and Pike Counties declared its second flooding disaster declaration within as many years late yesterday afternoon. Governor J.B. Pritzker declared the counties state disaster areas today prior to his COVID-19 updates: “This morning I issued a state disaster proclamation to support Grundy, Pike, Scott, and Morgan County in their fight against floods. I’ve deployed 60 National Guard members to assist the hardest hit communities in those counties.” Morgan County Emergency Management Coordinator Phil McCarty says that preparations and mitigation efforts are underway: “The river is forecast, last I checked this morning, was 26 feet, which is about 2.9 feet away from what the record is so, with that prediction, we have started and have had communications with IEMA and the Illinois Department of Corrections and we did declare Morgan County its second disaster for the flooding yesterday. We started sandbagging, laying sandbags in Meredosia.”
McCarty says that local volunteer efforts are doing their best to work around the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines at this time. McCarty says that 10 National Guard members are on their way to Morgan to help with mitigation efforts upon their activation by the governor this morning. “We’re going to do the mitigation efforts to protect the public. We are taking everything very seriously. We are not going to be late to the need, and the state hasn’t been late to the need for us. They’ve stepped up their game and definitely came and supported us in this effort. We are going to move forward and make sure we are safe. With the new normal, it means we are going to have to move in a little different manner, so we are moving a little bit earlier because we can’t be gathered in big, massive groups.” Pritzker says the mobilization of all necessary departments are already moving to the brunt of the flooding: “The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Transportation are already on the ground assisting local authorities, and along with the National Guard are operating with new protocols due to the pandemic. For example, the Guard troops are being tested for COVID-19 prior to deployment, and they’re receiving PPE to wear when they can’t maintain social distancing on the job. I urge all of our residents in these areas to be proactive and take precautions. Please be prepared and stay safe.”
McCarty says that public sandbagging areas are not being used at this time, but a small number of public volunteers are being utilized along with help from IDOC and IEMA. He says that sandbagging is being handled internally at IDOC facilities as much as possible to work around social distancing concerns.
McCarty says that levees are being continuously monitored, and that many of the levee districts did work to reinforce levees over the winter due to last year’s record flooding. “A lot of work and a lot inspections happened after last year’s floods. It’s an ongoing maintenance mission for the levees. The levee commissioners do a really good job with that. You can only do so much in one year, and you really want to balance that out. No doubt, last year was hard on us, but we held our own ground. Really the new challenge is fighting this with the pandemic, limited manpower, and making sure we are really safe. You know, I’ve got to be safe from the bugs, the reptiles, and now the pandemic. I’ve always had the bugs and the reptiles to deal with, but I’ve got a new enemy out there. We are really focusing on that, and it’s a challenge for us.”
The National Hydrolaugic Prediction Service with the National Weather Service is predicting a crest of 26 feet on Tuesday morning in Meredosia. The crest is likely to come close to the tenth highest crest in Meredosia’s history, which was 26.96 feet in July 1993. Last year, Meredosia set their 4th highest crest at 28.4 feet on June 4th. A 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms are expected Friday with more showers and thunderstorms predicted for Sunday. McCarty says one more good rain system would put the area in emergency status.