Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn toured flood-ravaged areas by helicopter Saturday, declaring four more counties as disaster areas and making a final stop in North Aurora, where he urged residents to be safe and said cities will work together so the state can ask for federal aid within a month.
Against the backdrop of the fast-flowing Fox River in Kane County, Quinn and other emergency personnel said they were working hard and praised first responders for their efforts in the wake of Thursday's deluge.
"Everybody, everywhere I've gone, has done a heroic job," Quinn said. "We just have to fight the flood with every fiber of our being and that's what we're doing. It's so impressive to see people in the community, the family of Illinois, working together. That's the best of Illinois, I think."
Overall, 42 counties have been declared disaster areas.
Some of those counties include: Cook, Kane, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Kendall counties. Douglas, Livingston, McDonough and Knox counties were added to the list Saturday.
In North Aurora, Quinn was surrounded by village and conservation officials, Red Cross representatives and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat.
Quinn said coordination between cities would be critical to tallying up a list of damages and expenses that Foster and other Illinois representatives in Washington could present for federal aid.
"We understand the importance of making sure we recover," said Quinn, noting that rainwater from the suburbs was working its way downstate through the Illinois River and ultimately the Mississippi River. The flood has "hurt businesses, it's hurt families, it's hurt basements and homes and definitely our governments have spent a great deal of money fighting this flood. It's not over yet."
Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said the state has 250 inspectors checking on area bridges to make sure they have not been weakened by strong currents.
Quinn also stressed that residents should stay away from floodwaters. A 64-year-old man in central Indiana died Friday after his car was swept away.
"If we were here (Friday), we would be up to our waists in water. That's how deep it was," said North Aurora Mayor Dale Berman as he stood next to Quinn.
North Aurora's village hall flooded Thursday. "Our problems have been water in basements, sewer backups ... I know there are others who are in much worse shape than we are."