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updated: 8/28/2017 8:20 PM

State, counties preparing to offer Hurricane Harvey aid

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  • Emergency officials in Illinois and the suburbs say they're preparing to respond to any requests for assistance from storm-ravaged Texas, where evacuees waded down a flooded section of I-610 on Sunday.

    Emergency officials in Illinois and the suburbs say they're preparing to respond to any requests for assistance from storm-ravaged Texas, where evacuees waded down a flooded section of I-610 on Sunday.
    AP Photo/David J. Phillip

 
 

An Illinois agency says it's prepared to mobilize manpower and equipment to send to Texas to aid relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

So far, though, officials at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency say they haven't been called for assistance.

"At this point, we're in the monitoring stage," agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson said Monday. "There haven't been a whole lot of those types of requests yet. But this is going to be a long-lasting event. So we are closely watching it."

Thompson said IEMA Director James Joseph reached out over the weekend to his emergency management counterpart in Texas to let him know "we stand ready to provide whatever assistance they would need from us."

Illinois would receive requests from Texas though the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a nationwide mutual aid system. Thompson said the system ensures the state requesting assistance gets exactly what it wants when and where it needs it.

While no requests have been made yet, IEMA already has started reaching out to some of its mutual aid partners throughout the state.

"We're trying to be as active as we can," Thompson said. "So if and when any kind of request comes through that we can fill, we are ready to do that as quickly as possible."

Emergency management officials in DuPage, Kane, McHenry and Cook counties say they are standing by.

The Cook County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, for example, is compiling a list of available resources should they be needed, according to a spokeswoman.

David Christensen, director of McHenry County Emergency Management, said it could be weeks or even months before there's a request for help.

"It was two months after (Hurricane) Katrina that I ended up going to Mississippi to assist down there," he said.

While Illinois has not officially been called upon, the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois already has sent 10 volunteers to Texas and officials expect that number to grow in the coming weeks and months.

Spokeswoman Joy Squier said the Red Cross has reached out to its database of thousands of registered volunteers, based on skill set.

"We're looking for people who have managed shelters, health care workers, people who know logistics and different skills that they employed in the past on other Red Cross assignments," she said. "Of those who got the notice, 10 have opted to deploy."

Squier said a typical deployment lasts about two weeks, but many volunteers opt to stay longer.

"We're continuing to recruit," she said. "This is going to be a marathon, so we will be sending volunteers for the next several weeks and months."

She said volunteers are always welcome and can sign up at redcross.org/volunteer.

"I can't say if you sign up today that you'll be sent to Texas, but we can always use the help of all of our volunteers," she said.

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