Governor Pat Quinn has issued a disaster declaration because of bitter winter weather and activated the Illinois National Guard. Quinn says 636 stranded motorists were rescued by first responders. The rescuers even included Conservation Department Police.
"Near Mahomet Illinois we had Conservation Police Officer Trent Reeves because of the snow drifts had to use his snowmobile and on foot rescued seven people and two pets."
Quinn says this is the third big natural disaster to hit the state in the last twelve months starting with floods last spring, November tornadoes, and now a huge winter storm, which are not inexpensive.
"Well we've had in less than a year three major events. The floods that we had in the spring were the most pervasive floods in the history of Illinois. And the deadly tornadoes in November and now this unprecedented winter storm. You know you don't scrimp on public safety. We have to deploy every asset that we have. At the end we'll calculate it."
State officials say people should avoid travelling if they can avoid it for another day because of the cold temperatures. Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director jonathon Monken says if they do go out and get stuck, stay with the vehicle and call for help.
"People adhered to those very very basic principles last night and I think that's the reason why we can say that despite all of those incidents we did not have any serious injuries or any fatalities."
Monken says not only are the sub zero temperatures cold enough to kill people if they stay out long enough, other vehicles present a hazard to people walking. Monken says he is still urging people not to travel unless they must.
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