MABAS-Illinois: Unsung Heroes Bring Food to Families Affected by the Great Flood of 2019

WINCHESTER – The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) is a first responder agency that provides emergency medical services, local municipal fire and special operation services during natural and man-made disasters across the state. While MABAS may be one of the lesser known agencies among the long list of organizations that support disaster response, their actions and support for families are felt immediately. 

The floods affecting families in central and southern Illinois have left many without access to food or water. That’s when MABAS mobilized and to date they have provided hundreds of meals to families in need. 

“With the cooperation of the Illinois National Guard, we delivered 800 gallons of milk, 500 loaves of bread, cases of butter, orange juice and eggs, said Michael Graves, MABAS-Illinois Exercise Branch Chief. “We noticed an immediate impact when residents were buying products as our crews were placing it on the shelves and in the coolers. The store managers were beyond appreciative.” 

These particular MABAS teams were born out of a need to address more challenging assignments, said Lt. Ken Schulman of Mundelein, the Cook County Swift Water Rescue Team (CCSWRT), Bravo Team Leader based in Chicago. In the past, they were equipped for transport and emergency response, but noticed they were under-equipped to deal with more dangerous water conditions. During floods, water conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly, so having an experienced team is a necessity. Three years ago, the CCSWRT was established as a special team meant to take on these challenges, and they have met the task. 

“We’ve been working with the MABAS guys and they’ve been great,” said Sgt. Michael L. Holman of Rockford, IL., with the 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment Forward Support Company based in Milan. “We’ve been a part of sandbag and recon operations and it’s been great working with the MABAS team to try and help the people here. We want to try and save their town, that’s why we signed up.” 

“Once again, our crews went above and beyond to make a difference in the community,” said Graves. “Their efforts are greatly appreciated by the citizens, community leaders, Illinois National Guard, Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, the Sheriff… The list goes on and on, because they really are making a difference. The work being done by our crews on both sides of the river are lessening the burden on the community so they can focus on their individual need and provide some stability in their lives. They keep saying, ‘we could not have done it all without the help of MABAS and the people who are do the work down here.’”