Rauner visits Watseka

Photo by Wendy Davis

Several government officials, including Governor Bruce Rauner, stopped at Trinity Church in Watseka to visit with residents who were evacuated due to the flooding.

Watseka residents who where staying at the Red Cross shelter at Trinity Church got a visit from local, state and federal officials Thursday night.

Governor Bruce Rauner stopped by, along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, State Sen. Jason Barickman and State Rep. Tom Bennett. Several county and city office holders also were in tow.

“I just wanted to express my condolences to all those who are experiencing troubles in the flooding,” Rauner said. “We want to do what we can for the community.” He said this includes making sure there is everything from state personnel to more sandbags.

“I want to thank the first responders and all the volunteers of the Red Cross.” He said it’s important at this time to keep morale up and make sure people get what they need.

“Unfortunately, it’s not a first,” said Barickman of Watseka’s flooding. He said local officials, as well as volunteers, have been doing a good job on staying on task in helping the community.

Cindy Clark, volunteer with the Red Cross, is heading the Watseka shelter.

She said last night there were about 100 people staying at the shelter, most all of them from Watseka.

There hasn’t been any problems in getting things set up and going, she said. “There’s been a lot of good help and generosity from the people of Watseka.”

Area business, grocery stores, IMH and churches have all stepped up to help, he said. “It’s been really fantastic.

The only suggestion of something needed is donations of money to the American Red Cross. She said it can be donated online, looking to specifically give money to Watseka and Iroquois County.

At the federal level, Kinzinger said, it’s hard for small communities to get emergency declarations.

He said the standards needing to be met are financial, and usually a small community doesn’t have the fiscal impact needed.

He said there’s legislation created to try to change the standard from a set number to a percentage of a community creates.

But, he said, even if there’s no official federal declaration, there is still federal money out there which can be found to help.

With Iroquois County being a geographically large county, the affects of the days of rain continue to affect it.

Iroquois County declared a county-wide disaster Wednesday afternoon, and EMA opened up the emergency operations center to coordinate with all local responders, county agencies, NGOs, and the state to respond and recover.