Don’t Wait, Evacuate: State Officials Ask Downstate Residents to Prepare for Possible Evacuations

Red Cross shelters are open in Jersey, Monroe counties

SPRINGFIELD – Rivers, especially flooded rivers, can be a force of nature – capable of sweeping a car off a roadway and taking lives. Already this year, the State of Illinois has seen the devastating effects of river flooding, cutting off major transportation thoroughfares, resulting power outages, and emotional hardship. As river levels continue to rise in the Metro-East and parts of southern Illinois, state officials continue to urge residents in river communities to prepare for potential evacuations. Due to prolonged flooding and recent precipitation, levee saturation levels in critical condition along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Emergency Management officials and first responders are advising residents in river communities to have a family evacuation-plan in place, in the event you need to quickly evacuate. 

“This a life-safety issue,” said Acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “If the river overtops our levees, or breaches our levees, it is not just your homes that will be impacted. Critical transportation corridors will be impacted. The roads residents need to take to get to work, the grocery store or the doctor will be impacted. The time to act is now.”

The American Red Cross has identified shelters across the state to house residents who need a place to stay. Currently, there has been a need identified in Jersey and Monroe County. 

These two facilities are currently open and operational. More locations can and will be open upon request.

Whether it is a flood, tornado, or winter storm, every family should have a disaster supply kit. After an emergency or disaster, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72-hours. When building your kit, remember to include all members of your family, including pets.

Flooding has been a factor in 49 deaths across Illinois since 1995. That is more than the number of people killed by tornadoes during the same period. By waiting to evacuate you put not only yourself at risk, but also the lives of the first responders who are called to assist in an emergency. Three out of four flood fatalities involve people in vehicles trying to cross flooded roads. 

“The Illinois Department of Transportation is working around the clock and using all available resources to make sure there are safe travel options for people who need to leave impacted areas,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Please do not take any chances with your safety or the safety of your loved ones. Make preparations now to leave, anticipate unexpected road closures and much longer travel times. We cannot stress enough: Never attempt to drive through a flooded road.”

Emergency management officials are urging to know the steps to take to keep their family safe in the event of an emergency. 

Be ready to evacuate. Have an emergency go bag packed for a quick evacuation. When you want to pack for all members of your family, including your pets. Don’t forget your medications, glasses, cellphones and chargers. Because families may not be together when an evacuation order comes in, have a family communications plan to ensure everyone has the essential information and knows where to meet up post-evacuation. 

Follow instructions of local authorities. If told to evacuate, do so immediately. If you do not have friends or family to assist you with an evacuation, listen to your radio or TV for information on provisions being made to assist those who need housing assistance. 

Have more than one way to receive important weather information. Because disasters can occur while you are at home, at school, at work or on vacation, make sure your mobile phone can receive emergency alerts. Monitor television, radio and internet for updates, and where possible, sign up for your community’s emergency alert system. 

Check on your neighbors. During a disaster, 46% of individuals expect to rely on the people in their neighborhood for help within the first 72 hours after a disaster or emergency. 

In an effort to encourage everyone in Illinois is prepared for emergencies, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s public preparedness website, Ready Illinois, is available in multiple languages, including Spanish, French, German, Filipino and more. To learn more about emergency preparedness for all hazards, man-made or natural, visit