Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday activated the Illinois National Guard, sending about 200 soldiers to help "with urgent flooding situations along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers."
“As we face historic weather in this state, the safety of our communities will always be my top priority, and every relevant state agency is working in concert to protect communities,” Pritzker said in a statement.
Pritzker said another 200 soldiers are on standby as "flood fight operations" remain underway. Residents were urged to "listen to the directions of first responders."
"We have deployed more than two million sandbags, hosted multi-agency resources centers in impacted communities, and I issued a disaster declaration impacting 34 counties," Pritzker's statement read. "My administration will continue using every tool at our disposal to protect impacted Illinoisans.”
The recent rainy weather and storms have made for difficult conditions across the state.
When it rains, it pours! And sometimes it breaks records. We set a new record rainfall total for the month of May. Interestingly enough, the record we broke was set last year. We could see a few more storms today, so this total may climb. @nbcchicago pic.twitter.com/1eNuaZc0OT— Andy Avalos (@AndyAvalosNBC5) May 30, 2019
Soldiers were sent to Milan, Galesburg and Springfield Thursday to "help strengthen levees and construct protective barriers in flooded areas." They are expected to be ready for deployment by Friday, Pitzker's office said.
Rainfall totals in Chicago this month already broke a record.
So far, Chicago has seen 8.24 inches of rain in May alone, marking the wettest May on record since 1871. That breaks a record set in 2018 of 8.21 inches.
The total is more than double what the area normally receives for the month.
This season has also been the second wettest spring on record, with 16.36 inches so far. The record for wettest spring was set in 1983, which saw 17.51 inches.
And it’s not just Chicago. Rockford is also experiencing its second wettest May on record since 1906 with 8.93 inches, according to the National Weather Service. It is also currently in its third wettest spring on record with 15.28 inches. There, the spring record sits at 21.43 inches, which was set in 1973.
Madison County in southern Illinois has been declared a disaster area by its county board chairman.
In proclaiming a disaster Wednesday, County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said the disaster exists "due to record breaking flooding along the Mississippi River throughout Madison County and the ongoing efforts to contain said flooding." Emergency management officials say agencies are starting to pre-position equipment near levees and the county has sent its sandbagging machine to Alton.
High water has forced some bridges across the Mississippi to close between Illinois and Missouri, causing extensive detours for some motorists.
The Mississippi is expected to crest at 39.3 feet in Alton on June 4, second only to the flooding in 1993.