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Quinn deploys 200 more Guardsmen 

The Southern Illinoisan
April 29, 2011
By Stephen Rickerl

MARION - Gov. Pat Quinn delivered a message of preparedness and cooperation Thursday during a stop at the Unified Area Command in Marion as part of his tour of flood-ravaged Southern Illinois.

Surrounded by state officials at a news conference, Quinn said the state anticipated spring flooding and has responded with a coordinated effort.

Earlier Thursday, Quinn activated an additional 200 Illinois National Guardsmen who will perform route reconnaissance, levee surveillance and maintenance and evacuation support in Gallatin and Alexander Counties.

Quinn said the state responded to the flood with all its resources. He said by working together communities will get through the crisis.

"We're going to take it on with all of our might," Quinn said. "The people of Illinois are a mighty people and the people of Southern Illinois in particular know how to come together, work together, band together to take on something that's very difficult, but we will get through this."

Quinn said he has not spoken to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon about Missouri's opposition to the Army Corps of Engineers plan to intentionally breach the levee to ease pressure on Cairo, saying he trusts the Corps judgment.

"We believe the Army Corps of Engineers should make that decision," he said. "We have full confidence and trust their judgment."

State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, said the court hearing the levee issue needs to realize lives are at stake.

"We need that federal court to make the right decision and put the lives of human people and communities in Illinois above the farmland in Missouri."

Bradley said although his district doesn't include river areas, Southern Illinoisan need to stand together as a region.

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said she has been involved with meeting on the county and regional level and said the planning and response is impressive. She said seeing the response not only from the state, but communities such as Elkville, who started sandbagging without being prompted by emergency management officials illustrates the mindset of the region.

"That's the kind of region we live in. and I'm pleased to be a part of it and pleased to be a part of the state's striking response."

Following the stop in Marion, Quinn, Simon and Bradley toured areas affected by the flooding.

Illinois National Guard Major General William Enyart reported that the bulk of the more than 300 guardsmen activated are combat veterans. He said the guard has 100 high-water vehicles and multiple helicopters for rescue and supply missions.

During a Thursday stop in Carbondale Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said the flooding she saw first-hand was dramatic and she supports all of the state's relief efforts.

"I understand the governor has committed more National Guard troops, prisoners are helping-I'm for all of that-anything we can do."

Radogno said she is keeping her fingers crossed that the dispute over breaching the levee will be quickly resolved.