In the early morning on February 29th a EF4 Tornado ripped through the southern portion of Illinois, damaging and destroying over 250 homes, injuring over 100 and resulting in the loss of 6 Illinois citizens. The early morning tornado was rated on the tornado scale as the second highest given to tornados and the deadliest tornado in Illinois history in a decade. In the afternoon of February 29th, the Governor signed a state disaster declaration for the southern Illinois communities impacted by the tornado.
The Illinois Department of Human Services, as part of the State Incident Response Center (SIRC) was activated. IDHS emergency response went into action. Amazingly, no IDHS facilities or staff were directly impacted by the disaster. One facility lost power but continued to remain open and all IDHS staff were accounted for a safe.
To accommodate inquiries from impacted residents, DHS' HelpLine was notified to direct residents impacted in the area to a shelter set up in Harrisburg, Illinois.
Additionally, as a resource request through the State Incident Response Center (SIRC) of IEMA, IDHS prepared for the intake of patients from the Harrisburg Hospital damaged during the storm. IDHS, Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center prepared for the initial request to transfer of over 20 patients from the Harrisburg Hospital. Three patients were eventually transferred to our facility.
FEMA/IEMA is in the process of conducting Preliminary Damage Assessments and IDHS is in the process of assisting IEMA with regionalized data regarding the impact to residents. Family Community Resource Centers in the area are working with the impacted residents on crisis assistance and food stamp replacement issues.
A special thank you to the DHS staff who worked to respond to the tornado and ensure that DHS customers continued to get services and promote overall safety and community well being.
FCS - Joseph Mason, Alan Summers and the Region V Team
DRS - Randy Staton, Joan Davis, Lori Zenner
DD /CHOATE - Greg Fenton, Joseph Stam, Cheryl Muckley, Chris Doctorman, Steve Hartline, Donna Murray, Bryant Davis, Jim Novelli, Steve Knupp, Sheryl Knupp, Steve Tanner, Debbie Moore, Chris Wells, Kathy Heinz, Rebecca Waller
HELPLINE - Coty Murphy
IDHS PIO - Tom Green
SNAP - Jan Freeman, Mark Bortmess
OSEP -John Mack, Amy Dickenson-Ferguson, Ken McCaffrey