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Governor criticized for slow response to devastating storms

Friday, Jul 28, 2006

Did the governor drop the ball during the aftermath of the Metro East storms last week? The governor was on vacation last week, and it wasn’t until Saturday that his IEMA director arrived on the scene - three days after the first major storm hit. On Wednesday, the governor finally asked President Bush to declare five counties a federal disaster area.

The move by Blagojevich was made a week after Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s decision to activate the National Guard and five days after Bush’s emergency declaration on Friday covering St. Louis…

Meanwhile, the local emergency management guy is upset.

“Whenever Ameren tells you this is something like four times bigger than anything they’ve had, that ought to tell somebody something,” said Jack Quigley, director of Madison County’s Emergency Management Agency. “Why they weren’t moving faster on getting federal aid here, I don’t know.”

The local Democratic state Senator is fuming mad.

State Sen. William Haine and state Rep. Dan Beiser, both Alton Democrats, penned a curt letter Wednesday afternoon asking for the state to act on the federal aid request as soon as possible. Haine said he had been told that state officials were questioning whether to seek aid at all because the storm’s damage might not be severe enough.

“The state director said to me that there wouldn’t be an application,” Haine said. “I don’t know how they could possibly conclude that we don’t meet the requirements at this stage.”

And the governor has yet to visit the region.

A spokesman for the governor said Wednesday that he would visit the Metro East area soon but provided no details.

I got about ten e-mails a day from the governor’s office after Hurrican Katrina hit the Gulf coast describing everything the guv was doing for residents of other states. He ought to get on the stick.

How big were last week’s storms?

The National Weather Service believes seven tornadoes touched down in the St. Louis area last week as part of two storms that ravaged the region.

Scientists have analyzed the damage from the storms that hit July 19th and again two days later. They believe tornadoes touched down July 19th near Bunker Hill on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, and Edwardsville on the Illinois side.

The Friday storms spawned at least five tornadoes, including two just south of Troy, Illinois.

The storm’s straight-line winds were almost tornado-like. The Weather Service believes winds reached up to 90 miles per hour.

And then there’s this.

Some of the tons and tons of debris from last week’s storms began going up in smoke Thursday.

The fire could last until Wednesday, said East St. Louis Fire Chief William Fennoy, who supervised the start of the burn.

He had no estimate on how much debris would be burned, but the city’s application filed with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency sought permission for burning 300,000 cubic yards of material.

The debris is mainly from East St. Louis, Cahokia, Centreville, Alorton and Washington Park. Another burn site is planned in Granite City.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

37 Comments
  1. - state worker A - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 5:49 am:

    Somehow I am not surprised. After all the area is not the ‘golden city’ (Chicago). I imagine that if all this had happened in Chicago, he would have cut his vacation short and address the situation right away. His actions speak volumes.


  2. - bored now - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 6:24 am:

    yeah, but: isn’t the guv supposed to be a political animal? this is politics 101 — be seen at the spot where the damage is done; take care of emergencies like, well, they’re emergencies. voters don’t differentiate (’well, he did a sorry job over there, but when we’re hit, he’ll do fine’). this is stupid…


  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 6:32 am:

    Not a national issue so why would he care? The New York Times wouldn’t care, the LA Times wouldn’t care. It only affects Illinoisans and (gasp) Southern Illinoisans at that.

    If anyone in Southern Illinois votes for that jerk then they don’t care about Southern Illinois, either.


  4. - Diane - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 6:57 am:

    Senator Haine has every right to be angry, Wednesday’s storm knocked out entire metro east cities and Friday’s storm finished off the rest of Madison and St. Clair counties. It sure looked from where we sat that St. Louis Mayor Slay and Missouri Governor Blunt, learned much from the response or lack of response to last year’s hurricanes. They were at the scenes of damage and cooling centers and food banks all week long. Working together they were able to help in very practical ways as well as assure residents that help was available and where to get it.

    Illinois had no such assurances. Topinka was down here, the gov must have decided southern Illinois won’t matter to his election chances.


  5. - Leroy - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 7:00 am:

    So now it is trendy to blame your political opponents every time it rains?

    Illinois gets hit with thousands of tornados. Your grief is nothing new. Here’s an idea: stop whining, clean up the mess, and then get back to work, just like the millions of people that had to deal with them before you.

    What’s next? Blaming your political opponents for a sunshiney day because it is causing skin cancer?

    Bad form, even for Illinois.


  6. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 7:05 am:

    Wow, Leroy. Stupendously stupid comments.


  7. - Fred - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 7:28 am:

    Even if Mother Nature destroyed these areas some of the people can get pre-school and health care.


  8. - Chicago Guv - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 7:44 am:

    Where’s East St. Louis?


  9. - Anon - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 7:52 am:

    The Governor would have to know what the “ball” even is before he could drop it.


  10. - Kanye Wumpus - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 8:36 am:

    Rod Blagojavich does not like…downstate people. (By downstate, I mean anyone not in chicago..even Waukegan).


  11. - Truthful James - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 8:51 am:

    BTW — the ChiTrib had a lot of coverage of the Missouri side. I saw damn little reporting on the Metro East side.


  12. - Larry - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 9:05 am:

    To a reporter looking for the scoop. Please tell us who the unqualified 20’s something, political hack heading up IEPA’s emergency response division?


  13. - DOWNSTATE - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 9:26 am:

    Let’s see Southern Illinois uuummmm.Brad isn’t that 2 blocks over from Maxwell Street.


  14. - Little Egypt - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 9:29 am:

    GoverNOT Hairdo will certainly have someone fall on a sword for this one and deflect blame from himself. But folks, he’s a very busy boy trying to keep all of the subpoena info out of the press. He has bigger things to worry about than a little power outage and wind damage in the metro east area. He will come out with a press release after 5 p.m. today listing all the things he has done this week for that storm ravaged area.


  15. - bored now - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 9:59 am:

    #He will come out with a press release after 5 p.m. today listing all the things he has done this week for that storm ravaged area.

    on a friday? that’s sure to fall on deaf ears (reporters i know leave the office “early” on fridays)…


  16. - Little Egypt - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 10:12 am:

    Bored now - if you will pay attention to press releases, that is Blogo’s MO.


  17. - Madison County Watcher - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 10:14 am:

    Interesting that Topinka made it down here before Blago. No surprise that Mayors Hagnauer and Bryant refuse to speak up against the Guv.

    The areas most hit are solidly Democrat areas such as Pontoon Beach, Granite City, Wood River and Bethalto. I’m shocked that, nine days later, Blago has yet to tour places that still don’t have power back yet. And people are saying that Ameren is taking too long?

    With Hoffman’s buddy Richard Mark at Ameren, leaders on this side of the river have no one to criticize and pass the blame. They don’t want to overly criticize Ameren or the Guv, probably for fear of Hoffman taking notice.

    Incidently, Ameren and its employees have worked hard to restore power to the area. They are undeserving of the criticism that Missouri leaders are throwing out. Parts of Madison County look like a hurricane went through here.


  18. - Disappointed - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 12:18 pm:

    IEMA blew it. I’ve done quite a bit of disaster assistance with multiple municipalities in both St. Clair and Madison County. When the damage is as widespread as it was, there needs to be an agency that steps up to the plate to help organize relief efforts. IEMA got in the way more times than not.
    Sewers were backing up into people’s homes and all IEMA would worry about was whether or not an IEPA permit was issued for burning debris!

    There was very little consistency in terms of what to do and how to do it. Leadership at the local level far outweighed anything IEMA could have brought to the table.

    Nevertheless, the fact the Governor is going after FEMA dollars is absolutely necessary. If the President doesn’t declare it a federal disaster area it is a crime. Most folks have no idea how much damage was done down here.

    In the end, who cares about Topinka visiting. What can she do? Assist some fool with a goofy loan?


  19. - DOWNSTATE - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 12:35 pm:

    Maybe Haine and Beiser need an application fron Jack Franks on Democrats For Topinka.Now that they see how much Blago cares about their area.


  20. - Dr. Yan - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 12:46 pm:

    Where’s Abby? Someone get Abby!


  21. - Bill - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 1:12 pm:

    Don’t try to pull a Jane Byrne on the Gov.
    It won’t work.


  22. - Lee - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 1:51 pm:

    Got billboards in the Metro East area with Blogojevich’s campaign slogan on them. What else do you expect. He is here in spirit. Even Jay Hoffman, the Gov’s chief of staff for downstate, had nothing to say about the storm. Hoffman has become less concerned with his voters and district over the last few years. Of course, we only had the worst storm in recent history , with seven confirmed tornados and half the population without power for days. Thousand still don’t have power. Hey Leroy, how did you feel about the response by President Bush to the Katrina disaster? I thought so!


  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 2:28 pm:

    Larry, were you referring to IEPA or IEMA?


  24. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 2:47 pm:

    Yes. The governor did not do his job. He failed. He is too busy figuring out how to delay an indictment to govern.

    If Blagojevich is re-elected, he will continue being too busy with the FBI fraud investigations to govern. So, get used to his inability to govern. Right now, he is pretty useless - even more so than usual.


  25. - Stormy - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 2:50 pm:

    My impression is that Blago’s staff holds so much sway over every agency director they can’t wipe their butts without a note first from Brad. A disaster agency that must be proactive and responsive should not be playing “mother, may I”, with political flacks in Chicago. Just go do the job and report to the hairpiece afterwards.


  26. - Anon - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 3:09 pm:

    Rich & Larry,
    The head of IEPA’s Office of Emergency Response was hired as an intern… He replaced a Phd toxicologist.


  27. - Larry - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 3:40 pm:

    ding ding ding ding ding


  28. - Bubs - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 3:54 pm:

    Good job, Larry! The proverbial chickens come home to roost on “Hack Hiring”.


  29. - anon - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 4:20 pm:

    I believe the IEPA Emergency Response Leader (a disaster himself) is not 20 something. Probably in his 40’s with a high school education only and zero experience to back up the title. The agency has had to develop more teams to cover emergencies cuz this guy is woefully inadequate and illprepared. Believe was a small IL county dem leader….. Hate to post names but initials are RL. IEPA veterans cringe at any mention of this guy.


  30. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 4:52 pm:

    Happy Friday, Becky Bill!

    Don’t insult Jane Byrne by comparing her to this tool.


  31. - HoosierDaddy - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 4:56 pm:

    IEPA also stands for International Early Psychosis Association…

    Is this the new emergency response guy?

    http://www.epa.state.il.us/gallery/air/PFCA4


  32. - Anon - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 5:04 pm:

    Whew…. no the guy in the ridiculous blue suit and cape in the pic is much more intelligent and qualified. BTW, nice gut for a leotard… Jesus Chr$st…

    No the emergency response guy sleeps through most meetings and wears a bag over his head.


  33. - Nice Suit - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 8:09 pm:

    Guess no one wanted to call the Gov on vacation, either.


  34. - Yawner - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 9:33 pm:

    I am glad Larry gave himself the ol’ ding ding ding before we learned two posts later that he was only off by 20 years in his first comment.

    Bravo!


  35. - Anon - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 10:33 pm:

    Good idea to burn the debris….maybe the cloud of smoke will be large enough and visible north of I-80. G-Rod can tell his pilot, “follow that smoke.” Nothing else seems to work to get him to venture downstate.


  36. - Link - Friday, Jul 28, 06 @ 11:02 pm:

    Does that mean the Lt. Governor was on vacation too?


  37. - grateful - Saturday, Jul 29, 06 @ 2:23 pm:

    Please tell all the Employees of IDOT Thanks
    for the Wonderful service they have Provided.
    During the Storm Cleanup
    I know you are not Treated very Well by
    Gov. Rod Ryan / Hang in there and keep on
    doing what is Right / Hard work Pays !!!!!


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