Environment & Weather
Governor Quinn Salutes “CNN Heroes” Awardee PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Monday, 02 December 2013 13:22

Declares Sunday “Chad Pregracke Day” to Honor Illinois River Advocate

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn declared today “Chad Pregracke Day” to salute the East Moline man who was named “CNN Hero of the Year” for his efforts to clean up America’s waterways. Chad Pregracke will be honored in a CNN broadcast hosted by Anderson Cooper tonight at 7:00 p.m.

“Chad Pregracke personifies stewardship of our rivers, a ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ tenacity and the volunteer spirit that makes Illinois special,” Governor Quinn said. “Having known Chad for years, I believe CNN made the ideal choice for ‘Hero of the Year’. This man has truly made a difference and we are extremely proud of him.”

Governor Quinn noted that in an act of uncommon generosity, Pregracke said he will share part of his $300,000 prize with the other nine finalists of the CNN Heroes initiative.

A former commercial shell diver, Pregracke founded Living Lands & Waters in 1998 to remove mounds of debris he saw on the river bottom near the Quad Cities. Since then, he has been responsible for removing 7 million tons of trash from 23 waterways including the Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. In 2005, he partnered with then-Lieutenant Governor Quinn to clean up the Illinois River’s Plum Island, now an eagle sanctuary.

“I am honored to have a day named after me,” Pregracke said. “I don’t know who is more excited, me or my Mom! I think one my biggest accomplishment is encouraging others that they can make a big difference in this world. I am proud to say I’m from Illinois, and want to thank all the people of Illinois that voted for me and cleaner rivers. This has allowed me the privilege and opportunity to be named 2013 CNN Hero.”

Pregracke and his crew spend nine months a year living and working on a barge, organizing riverbank cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives and invasive plant removal. He is halfway to his goal of planting one million trees along Midwestern shorelines.

Pregracke is instilling a passion for stewardship to a younger generation, as well, with an “Alternative Spring Break” and “Floating Classrooms.” In 2013, Floating Classrooms were conducted on Living Lands & Waters’ boats moored at Alton, Cave-in-Rock, Chester, Grafton, Quincy, Rock Island and other Illinois riverfront communities.

During the past 15 years, more than 70,000 volunteers have participated in Pregracke’s projects. The Living Lands & Waters staff has grown to 12, and its fleet includes 15 boats, six trucks and a crane. Pregracke has been called “the garbageman of the rivers”, and Living Lands & Waters is known as the most “industrial strength” river recovery project on earth.

In his Proclamation, Governor Quinn said that Pregracke is a model for the 3,000 AmeriCorps members in Illinois and embodies the mission of the Governor’s Serve Illinois Commission to instill an ethic of service.

This is the 7th year CNN has conducted its search for “CNN Heroes.” This year’s top ten were nominated by a global audience and profiled earlier this year on CNN. Pregracke received the most votes in the five-week online election. Other 2013 “Hero” finalists included an Iraq war vet who builds homes for other disabled veterans, an urban gardener who created an oasis in a food desert and a Florida retiree who invested her savings into transforming a bus into a mobile computer lab for inner city children.

A free viewing party for the airing of CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute will be held tonight at the Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center beginning at 6:00 p.m.

To learn more about Chad Pregracke or to volunteer on a Living Lands & Waters project, visit www.livinglandsandwaters.org.

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Virtual Eco Conference Connects Iowans to Greener Lifestyle PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Monday, 02 December 2013 08:57

Families across Iowa will be getting together — virtually — once a month from January through June for an Eco Family Virtual Conference from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. It’s an opportunity for families to improve the environment, reduce their carbon footprint and create community as they participate in a do-as-you-learn format.

The online conference has been designed with families in mind so everyone can participate and benefit, even families with young children. Conference materials connect families and encourage them to make conscious decisions about the environment.

Once enrolled in the conference, families will have access to educational videos, software to create personal avatar videos, family activities and other resources to explore for one month before the session. On the first Thursday of each month, January through June, participants will share during the 90-minute session what they have learned and experienced. As a group they will have the opportunity to create actions plans for their family and community. All sessions begin at 6:30 p.m.

“Connecting to people where they are is one of the things ISU Extension and Outreach does best. We want to make this available to people in multiple places, rather than limit the learning experiences to a geographic location,” said Kristi Cooper, an ISU Extension family life specialist and one of the conference organizers.

“With the flipped classroom families can apply what they learn, share what they did and get ideas for ongoing action plans as they connect with others of similar interests. Also, this is a way for people to create community close to where they live if they choose,” Cooper said.

2014 Virtual Conference Sessions

  • Jan. 2 – Energy (materials available Dec. 1, 2013)

  • Feb. 6 – The New Economy (materials available Jan. 3)

  • March 6 – Food & Genetic Engineering (materials available Feb. 7)

  • April 3 – Air Quality (materials available March 7)

  • May 1 – We are Nature (materials available April 4)

  • June 5 – Water (materials available May 2)

To participate in the conference, families need a computer with high-speed Internet access, speakers or headphones and a microphone.

Registration is available online at http://bit.ly/eco2014 . The registration fee for the six-session virtual conference is $55 before Nov. 30 and $70 after that date. Registration also can be made by the session; fee per session prior through Nov. 30 is $10 and $15 per session after that date. Once registered, participants will receive log-in directions for accessing the virtual classroom for all conference sessions.

 

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Governor Quinn Delivers Supplies to Help Tornado Recovery in Brookport PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Monday, 25 November 2013 15:13

Portion of Donated Items for Philippine Relief Will Help Hundreds in Southern Illinois Who Lost Homes, Possessions in Storm

BROOKPORT – Governor Pat Quinn today announced the delivery of nearly 300 pallets of donated supplies to help people in Brookport recover from the deadly tornado that damaged or destroyed more than 150 homes. Prior to the Nov. 17 tornadoes, the supplies were originally collected to provide assistance for people who were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, but the Rizal Center has not yet been able to transport the goods to the Philippines.

Over the weekend, Governor Quinn stepped in and worked with the Help for Haiyan relief effort and Rizal Center to send a portion of the donated supplies directly to Brookport to aid residents recovering from the deadly storms. Today the state of Illinois loaded and delivered nearly 300 pallets to Brookport.

"Illinois is a community of shared values and we will always help our neighbors when they’re in need,” Governor Quinn said. "Now that we have an emergency situation here at home, these supplies will immediately aid those who need it the most.”

The items, which include 10,000 pounds of water, and 50,000 pounds of non-perishable food items, medical supplies and more, had been stored at the Rizal Center’s Fellowship Hall in Chicago while transportation options to the Philippines were pursued. On Nov. 15, the governor submitted a request to federal officials for permission to use the Illinois National Guard to send the aid to the Philippines. The tornadoes hit Illinois on Nov. 17.

“We appreciate what Governor Quinn is doing to move donated supplies to people in need,” Rose Tibayan, co-organizer of the Help for Haiyan relief effort, said. “We have been unable to move all of our donations overseas, so we are grateful for this opportunity to work with our Governor to help families in our home state.”

Governor Quinn also announced the opening of a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) in Brookport to make it easier for people affected by the tornadoes to access disaster-related relief services and information. The MARC, which will be open today and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 306 Crockett (behind the Elementary School), will bring together representatives from several local and state agencies in one location.

The Governor is committed to helping communities across Illinois recover following the Nov. 17 storms. For more information about disaster recovery resources, including shelters and ways to help tornado survivors, visit www.ready.illinois.gov.

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Governor Quinn Requests Federal Aid for 15 Tornado-Ravaged Counties PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Monday, 25 November 2013 14:40

Nearly 1,000 Uninhabitable Homes Across Illinois; 2,441 Homes Damaged by Tornadoes

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today asked President Barack Obama to declare 15 Illinois counties major disaster areas to help people and businesses recover from a violent outbreak of tornadoes across the state on Nov. 17. Governor Quinn requested a federal disaster declaration for Champaign, Douglas, Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, LaSalle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford counties.

“The lives of thousands of people across Illinois were torn apart by this deadly outbreak of tornadoes,” Governor Quinn said. “We expedited the damage assessment process in order to submit this request and the required documentation as soon as possible. I encourage President Obama to quickly approve this request and help our communities recover and rebuild.”

Governor Quinn made the request after five teams comprising personnel from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and local officials assessed damage in the 15 counties hit by the Nov. 17 tornadoes and severe storms. The teams identified 2,441 homes that were damaged, including 781 homes that were destroyed. The teams completed their assessments in less than four days.

If Governor Quinn’s request is approved, people in the approved counties would be eligible to apply for grants and low-interest SBA loans. In addition, affected businesses would be able to apply for low-interest SBA loans.

Representatives from IEMA and FEMA will meet with local government officials beginning in early December to document expenses related to the tornadoes and storms, including emergency protective measures, debris removal and repair or replacement of roads, bridges and other public facilities. That information could be used to support a request for federal assistance to help state and local governments recoup a portion of eligible tornado-related expenses.

Under the Governor’s direction, the state continues to support recovery efforts in several communities hard hit by the tornadoes. The State Incident Response Center in Springfield is activated to coordinate deployment of state assets and personnel in response to requests from affected areas.

Trucks and heavy equipment from the Illinois Department of Transportation and inmate crews from the Illinois Department of Corrections continue to assist with removal of massive amounts of debris in communities. IEMA personnel were deployed to impacted communities, where they continue to coordinate with local officials on a variety of disaster-related issues. The state also continues to provide law enforcement officers to assist with security and other issues in affected communities.

Several state and local agencies are helping tornado survivors with a variety of issues at Multi-Agency Resources Centers (MARCs) set up in Washington and Brookport through Tuesday. The Illinois departments of Human Services, Insurance and on Aging have staff at both MARCs, and the Secretary of State’s Office will be on hand to help residents with driver’s licenses, vehicle registration and other issues.

The American Red Cross will provide client casework, information and referrals. More than 20 local disaster relief agencies will also be there to provide assistance and give people much needed information about their recovery process. Additionally, there will be bulk distribution of a variety of items.

For more information about disaster recovery resources, including shelters and ways to help tornado survivors, visit Ready.Illinois.gov.

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Governor Quinn Announces Opening of Washington Multi-Agency Resource Center PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Monday, 25 November 2013 09:50

Center Offers Disaster Information, Assistance for Tornado Survivors

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced the opening of a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) in Washington to make it easier for people affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes to access disaster-related relief services and information. The MARC will bring together representatives from more than 20 local and state agencies in one location.

“The MARC will be a one-stop shop for people affected by the deadly tornadoes to connect with the services and information that are available to them,” Governor Quinn said. “While the recovery will be long and hard, we will continue to work around the clock to ensure that every community can rebuild.”

Anyone affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes is encouraged to visit the MARC at Five Points Washington, 360 N. Wilmor Road in Washington from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Sat., Nov. 23 through Tues., Nov. 26. Proof of address is requested.

State agencies offering assistance Saturday through Tuesday at the Washington MARC include the departments on Aging and Human Services. The Department of Insurance will offer help with insurance issues at the MARC on Monday and Tuesday. The Secretary of State’s Drivers Services Mobile Unit will be at the site on Monday, Nov. 25 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The American Red Cross will provide client casework, information and referrals. More than 20 local disaster relief agencies will also be there to provide assistance and give people much needed information about their recovery process. Additionally, there will be bulk distribution of a variety of items.

After less than one day of documenting tornado damage in four tornado-affected areas of Illinois, damage assessment teams from IEMA, FEMA, the SBA and local officials have already surveyed more than 400 homes, including 281 homes that were destroyed, 58 that suffered major damage and 120 that also were damaged. The teams will work throughout the weekend and into next week until complete.

Governor Quinn has declared 15 counties state disaster areas following a severe storm system that generated at least 25 confirmed tornadoes, including two EF4 tornadoes. Counties included in the declaration are Champaign, Douglas, Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, LaSalle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford counties.

The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The state of Illinois has personnel and assets that can be mobilized to help local government officials with disaster recovery, including such things as trucks, heavy equipment to remove debris, communications equipment and assistance with security and other public safety issues.

For more information about disaster recovery resources go to www.ready.illinois.gov.

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