January 02, 2014

Sub-Zero Temps Due In Central Illinois After Snow

A National Weather Service meteorologist based in central Illinois says the region should get ready for “some of the coldest air'' it's seen in a long time.

Meteorologist Ed Shimon says forecasts for central Illinois call for highs Monday and Tuesday at or just below zero.  Lows could drop to 12 or 13 degrees below zero at night.

The arctic blast is due just after a winter storm moved across the state, bringing snow totals between 3 and 5 inches to parts of central Illinois.

Shimon says wind-chill warnings haven't been issued yet, but probably will.  That means wind chills will be at 25 degrees below zero or colder in the region.

Snowfall in the region is to blame for one fatal crash near Decatur.  Illinois State Police say an east-bound car slid off Interstate-72, striking a draining culvert, and flipped upside down just before 9 p.m. Wednesday.  A passenger died, while the driver was treated for injuries.  No names have been released. 

Forecasters say some northern Illinois communities could get another eight inches of lake effect snow.  The National Weather Service says today’s lake effect snow could extend as far west as Joliet.

Chicago is expected to get another 4 to 6 inches, and some spots could get up to eight inches.   Forecasters say some areas of northern Illinois have already received more than 11 inches of snow.

December 15, 2013

Sidewalk Snow Removal Activated In Champaign, Urbana

Champaign city officials activated their Sidewalk Snow Removal Ordinance Sunday morning, following the 8 ½ inches of snow that fell Friday night through Saturday.

That means owners of property in the Downtown and Campustown districts of Champaign have until 9 AM Tuesday morning to clear their sidewalks of snow.

Rules for Emergency Snow Routes in Champaign were lifted Sunday evening at 7 PM, 11 hours after they were activated. During that period, on-street parking was banned on four arterial one-way streets in the city.

If you believe your vehicle was towed from one of the emergency snow routes (State, Randolph, Church or University) check with Public Works (217-403-4700) or Champaign Police Department (217-351-4545). Towed vehicles were relocated to the Champaign Police Department Parking lot (82 E. University). Vehicle owners are advised to have their vehicle license plate number and description available.

Meanwhile, as of 9:00am, Monday, December 16, 2013, the Urbana Public Works Director has declared the sidewalk snow and ice removal requirement in effect for the Downtown, University and South Philo Road snow removal districts.

City ordinance requires that public sidewalks, within the defined districts, be cleared by adjacent property owners within 24 hours after the Public Works Director’s declaration.  Sidewalks need to be cleared by 9:00am, Tuesday, December 17.

December 06, 2013

Winter Storm Cancels Classes At SIU

Classes at Southern Illinois University are canceled because of a storm that's left a slick layer of ice under several inches of snow, with more wintry weather on the way.

WSIU Radio reports that some services at the 18,000-student Carbondale university were to remain open Friday, including dining services for students, the Morris Library and the student recreation center.
University administrators called off Friday's classes because of questionable driving conditions.
National Weather Service forecasters say parts of the region could get a foot of snow by the time a storm moves through the region.
UPDATE:  Snow is falling in parts of southern Illinois Friday aftrnoon, and forecasters say parts of the region could get as much as a foot and a half of snow by the time a wintry storm moves through the region.
The National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky. says portions of southern Illinois are also expected to receive up to a quarter-inch of ice.
Forecasters say areas south of Interstate 70 are bearing the brunt of the storm. A state of emergency has been declared for Jackson County, home to Murphysboro and Carbondale, where some secondary roads are impassable.
Illinois State Police have responded to dozens of accidents and officials in Franklin county are warning drivers to stay off the roads.

November 27, 2013

Fifteen Illinois Counties Approved For Federal Disaster Assistance

Fifteen Illinois counties, including Champaign, Douglas, and Vermilion, have been granted federal disaster declarations after tornadoes hit large portions of the state on November 17.

The declaration was announced in press releases late Tuesday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, a day after the governor and Illinois’ congressional delegation submitted the request.

The assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and homeowners recover from the effects of the disaster.

“We will begin working immdediately with the federal government to ensure tornado victims can get needed help as quickly as possible,” said Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

“Just days before Thanksgiving this is good news for thousands of people in Illinois who have suffered so much,” said Gov. Quinn.  “I thank President Obama for his swift approval that will bring much-needed federal relief to those who desperately need it in the wake of these deadly storms.”

Donald Keldsen, the Federal Coordinating Officer for recovery operations, said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after assessments are fully completed.

The other counties in the declarations are Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, La Salle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford.

At least 24 tornadoes were reported on Nov. 17.   The request detailed the impact the storms had on communities, including damage to at least 2,441 homes.

November 25, 2013

Quinn, Congressional Delegation, Request Federal Assistance

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked President Barack Obama to declare 15 counties in Illinois major disaster areas after tornadoes and strong storms hit the state last week.

Quinn also said today that state and federal assessment teams found the storms damaged more than 2,400 homes in Illinois. That includes nearly 800 homes that were destroyed.

Counties in that list of a state declaration include Champaign, Vermilion, and Douglas.
State agencies continue to help Illinois communities recover from the Nov. 17 storms. Illinois Department of Transportation equipment and Illinois Department of Corrections inmate crews are working to remove debris.

A note from U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's office indicates the state's congressional delegation also requested the declaration in a letter to the president.

The storm system produced 67 tornadoes throughout the Midwest, 24 of which touched down in Illinois, causing widespread destruction throughout the state," said the delegation.  "The tornadoes resulted in six Illinois fatalities and at least 180 injuries. We respectfully request that you make the necessary declaration so that these counties can receive the assistance they need.”

The state will have resource centers in the hard-hit areas of Washington and Brookport through tomorrow.
The governor's office says state and federal emergency officials will meet with local governments early next month to document storm expenses.

November 25, 2013

Forecasters: 24 Tornadoes Hit Illinois November 17

The National Weather Service says two dozen tornadoes struck Illinois and another 28 hit Indiana during a violent weather outbreak earlier this month.

The agency's release of the latest figures only underscores what officials have been saying since the tornadoes roared through the Midwest on Nov. 17: There's never been a November day like that one on record.

The tornado that cut a half-mile swath through the central Illinois community of Washington is the strongest in November in Illinois since modern records began being kept in 1950.

And forecasters say the 28 tornadoes in Indiana were the third-highest total in that state's history and the most ever recorded there in November. There were also tornadoes reported in Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio

November 21, 2013

Vermilion County Added To State Disaster Declarations

Fifteen Illinois counties, including Vermilion, now have state disaster declarations after strong weekend storms unleashed violent tornadoes.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn added Vermilion and Fayette to the list of counties getting the extra state aid.

Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Fisher said the twisters in his area damaged six farms and homes in rural areas, like Catlin and East Lynn.
Sunday's storms spawned at least 15 tornadoes that killed at least six people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. At least two of the tornadoes had a preliminary designation as EF-4s, the second-strongest rating.
Quinn says in a statement that officials are still tallying the damage, but expect to find that more than 1,500 home to have been damaged to destroyed.
Federal and state officials are set to meet in central Illinois on Thursday to begin preliminary damage assessments.
The disaster designation is aimed at making it easier for state resources to help hard-hit communities.

November 20, 2013

Count Of Homes Damaged In Illinois Expected To Grow

State officials now say that at least 900 homes were either destroyed or badly damaged by Sunday's tornadoes. And that figure is likely to grow.

Patti Thompson is a spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.  She says Wednesday the agency doesn't have anything close to a full count of the homes affected in Washington, which was hardest hit by the storms.
Washington's mayor said Tuesday that about 1,000 homes received some sort of damage or were destroyed entirely.   The tornado that tore through the central Illinois town had 190 mph winds and was on the ground for 46 miles.
Thompson says Federal Emergency Management Agency workers are expected to begin damage assessments for federal help on Thursday.
The National Weather Service says at least 15 tornadoes hit Illinois Sunday.

Gifford Fire Protection
(Jeff Bossert/WILL)
November 20, 2013

Gifford Cleanup Effort Includes Multiple Agencies, High School Students

While the cleanup effort continues in tornado-ravaged community of Gifford, the Red Cross and United Way have seen more than 200 volunteers assist in that effort.  But Tuesday's work also included about 100 high school students, who were impacted one way or another by the storm.

The cleanup is bringing out more that the volunteer efforts of the Red Cross and United Way.

Most of the student population at nearby Armstrong Township High School was out of the classroom, as part of day of service for about 100 teens, or all but 30 of them. 

The idea started as a project for the schools' FFA Club, but expanded quickly.

The schools’ superintendent and at least one student lost homes in the storm.

Amy Schleef teaches business at Armstrong Township High School, and said everyone in the school knows someone affected.

"We’re focused on cleaning up the field, a lot of kids grown up on farms," she said.  "They know what it’s like to have stuff laying out.  It’s our way of contributing the way we know how.”

"We took two busloads out," said Spanish Teacher Katie Wright.  "So we actually had to go back and reload the bus more than once.  As soon as the kids heard about it, they called home to get more warm clothes so they could go out for the whole day."

Schleef says another community service day is planned for Wednesday, with even more students and staff. 

Work crews continue to clean up the more than 50 homes that were damaged or destroyed in Sunday’s storm.  Gordyville Auction House, just outside town, is used to register volunteers – and collect items like non-perishable food, water, and cleaning supplies.

Dean Otta is a Red Cross volunteer and disaster team captain based in Decatur.  He says volunteers are seeking the full range of jobs.

“They’re asking for people that can do heavy lifting, picking up shingles, and light debris," he said.  "There’s families that want help.  They’ll ask for 3 or 4, volunteers – we’ll sign 3 or 4 people, go the specific house – the families that they want.”

The Country Health Care and Rehab Nursing Home is one of the few locations in Gifford with electricity. 

Because the facility was spared from the storm Sunday, and never lost power, Administrator Chris Kasper said it’s functioned as a shelter, and another place for the Red Cross to store supplies.

"This facility was built by the community that has always supported us, now it's our turn to support them," he said.  "Thankfully we've been able to do that.  We want to provide them with plenty of bottled water and toiletries, and anything they need to just have some sense of normalcy."

The nursing home now even has functioning internet service, letting staff take care of medical records.

Meanwhile. federal assessments of tornado-damaged property in Illinois are to begin Thursday.
Gov. Pat Quinn's office says Federal Emergency Management Agency assessments are necessary so the state can request federal assistance.
Five teams will look at damage to homes and businesses in Champaign, Grundy, Massac, Pope, Tazewell and Will counties.

Sunday's tornadoes destroyed hundreds of homes and left six people dead in the state.

November 19, 2013

Six More Counties, Including Douglas, Given Disaster Declaration

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is adding another six counties to the state's disaster declaration after strong weekend storms blew across the region.

The move was announced early Tuesday and brings the total number of counties given the designation to 13.

The newest counties being added are Douglas, Jasper, Pope, Wabash, Wayne and Will.

The governor declared Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties as state disaster areas on Monday.

Quinn's tour of the region Monday included a visit to the Champaign County community Gifford, where residents sustained only minor injuries. 

"We want people to rebuild and to come together, and Gifford is a strong town," he said.  "And it has strong community feeling, and we want the town to come back stronger than ever."

Carl Baker with the American Red Cross said the agency is trying to address some very specific needs in Gifford.

"We have been on the ground doing mobile feeding, fixed feeding, and also had a shelter open," he said. "So, that's what we're doing here.  We've also done some client needs to see what they needed, and also some mental health counseling."

Sunday's storms spawned tornadoes that pummeled the state, killing at least six people and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. At least two of the tornadoes had a preliminary designation as EF-4s, the second-strongest rating.
The disaster designation is aimed at making it easier for state resources to help hard-hit communities.

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