Rauner Deploys Search and Rescue Team to Lee County Campground

Governor Bruce Rauner deployed a search and rescue team to a campground in Lee County that was severely damaged by Monday's storms.

Rauner deployed Illinois Task Force 1, an 80-member search and rescue team, to help local responders search for people who may have been trapped after an EF-2 tornado tore through Woodhaven Lakes campground in Lee County

"One of our biggest concerns is, because many of those folks are traveling, they’re from remote areas or from out of town, there could be a person there trapped that would not be reported," Rauner said. 

Rauner said the campground could hold up to 30,000 people on a busy weekend. Officials said there were only about 300 people on the grounds during the Monday night storms.

"We’re very fortunate that the storm hit on a Monday when that campground was not full," he said. 

Rauner also issued a state disaster proclamation Tuesday for Lee and Grundy counties.

The declaration allows for a wide variety of state resources to be available to help affected communities respond and recover from the severe storms that hit the areas Monday.

Coal City was also hit hard by a suspected tornado Monday night. 

"The path of the tornado was devastating, a number of homes were completely destroyed," Rauner said. "It’s a miracle frankly when you see the devastation that there was no deaths."

Rauner said he did not expect the areas will receive federal aid, noting that the cost of the damage does not appear to be large enough to qualify.

"It looks like from preliminary determination that it’s very unlikely we’ll get any federal assistance," Rauner said Tuesday. "The Federal goverment has strict guidelines on the cost estimates of the damage. The tornado we dealt with a number of weeks back in Fairdale, etc. was even more widespread than the damage in this storm front and we did not qualify for relief then."

Earlier Tuesday, Rauner activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield Tuesday after severe weather and tornadoes battered parts of northern Illinois.

Rauner said state personnel and equipment are ready to be “quickly deployed if needed to help local emergency responders with public safety issues following tornado touchdowns in several communities in northern Illinois.”

“I activated the State Emergency Operations Center to ensure we’re prepared to act quickly if any local responders need our assistance,” Rauner said in a statement. “The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is in close contact with local emergency managers in several counties and stands ready to coordinate deployment of state resources if needed to support local response efforts.”

Rauner said the center will remain activated as long as necessary.

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