IDOC staff and inmate workcrews join forces with IEMA and others to support communities in flood relief efforts
Offenders from East Moline Correctional Center help sandbag the levee at Keithsburg to save the town from the rising Mississippi River.
SPRINGFIELD – July 7, 2014 - Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) staff and inmate workcrews are playing a vital role in providing flood relief assistance to Illinois communities as flood waters rise this summer.
"When nature plays havoc, our employees are called out on a moment's notice,” said IDOC Director S. A. “Tony” Godinez. “I commend their leadership, professionalism and commitment to support this effort. The agency’s staff and inmate workcrews continue to do an exceptional job helping communities in their time of need. Everyone involved are ultimate team players, whether filling sandbags or working at flood sites, their efforts are most noteworthy."
On July 2, 2014, IDOC answered the call for help by dispatching two inmate workcrews of 14 offenders from East Moline Correctional Center to Keithsburg, according to Lt. John Eilers, who serves as IDOC liaison to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). Inmate workcrews have logged in more than 378 hours by assisting the community with filling and placing sandbags and plastic on its levee, which protects the city from the Mississippi River.
Offenders at Hill Correctional Center assist in sandbag filling operations to support flood relief efforts at Gulfport, Keithsburg and New Boston.
“City officials have praised IDOC’s efforts and stated if the department had not assisted, they wouldn’t be able to save their city from the rising Mississippi waters,” said Eilers, who coordinates IDOC's resources, work crews and supervisory staff assigned to communities. “The levee situation in Keithsburg will remain critical over the next several days; however, to date, the work conducted by the workcrews has prevented the city from flooding.”
In addition, offenders at Hill Correctional Center have been filling bags since July 3. The bags were sent to Gulfport, Keithsburg and New Boston. Currently, Gulfport and New Boston are receiving sufficient volunteer labor, but were in need of filled bags to shore up their levee that protects them from the Mississippi River. On July 4, offenders at Pittsfield Work Camp began a sandbag filling operation as well to support the Sny Levee District that also protects a 54-mile stretch of levee on the Mississippi River. To date, offenders at both Hill and Pittsfield have filled more than 17,000 bags to support these communities and levee districts.
Offenders at Pittsfield Work Camp participate in a sandbag filling operation to support the Sny Levee District, which protects a 54-mile stretch of levee on the Mississippi River.
In addition to these efforts, staff and an inmate workcrew from Clayton Work Camp on July 7 began assisting the Indian Graves Drainage District, which is north of Quincy, by sandbagging a ¾ mile stretch of its levee in Adams County.
The partnership between IDOC and IEMA is unique. For years, Illinois was one of only several states in the country using inmates on disaster relief crews. As a result, IDOC and IEMA have built a solid foundation in helping hundreds of communities achieve successful results to demanding emergency relief projects.