LaHood: Thank you to those who helped

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State Sen. Darin LaHood, R-PeoriaThese past two weeks have been especially traumatic for nearly all of the counties in my district as a result of these spring floods. The number of residents affected is staggering especially in the smaller communities of Roanoke and Edwards. While this flood may not go down in the record books like the one of 1993, many west central Illinoisans are still feeling the pain.

This flood has been devastating for some, but what we have seen time and time again is an outpouring of help from neighbors and even strangers. The response from state, local and non-governmental officials has been solid. I would like to extend a special thanks to the Governor's office for their quick action to declare the first 38 counties disaster areas.

Last Friday and Saturday, local officials and residents were contacting my office via the phone, E-mail and even Facebook to say hey, "what about us?" Well I heard their concerns and with a near instantaneous response Stark and Knox counties were added. The Governor's staff should be commended for its response and the daily and even twice-daily briefings we have been getting over the past week.

I have toured some of the most devastated areas in the district and it will take a while for families and businesses to recover. It is our nature as Midwestern, no-nonsense people to not let a natural disaster keep us down for long, I am confident that a majority, if not all, of those affected citizens will clean-up, rebuild and be better than ever.

How our most-affected neighbors and the communities respond in the aftermath will really determine how these floods have impacted us. Local churches, charities, food pantries and other civic organizations will be especially set back, as many of their supplies will have been depleted. If you or your family has the ability to give, I would politely ask that you begin to help restock the shelves of our local charities.

This week, I was able to spend some time with Peoria-area Red Cross volunteers and Mayor Jim Ardis. We thanked the volunteers for their dedication as they have been wonderful in this time of crisis: distributing meals, opening shelters and assisting in sandbagging efforts along the Illinois and Spoon Rivers.

On behalf of the 220,000 citizens who reside in the 37th Senate District, I would like to give a big "thumbs-up" to our first responders, IEMA, local ESDAs, the Red Cross, state and county leaders, and the dozens of charities and thousands of people who have volunteered.

There is only one word left for this column - THANKS!


About the Author
Darin LaHood is an Illinois State Senator from Peoria, representing the 37th District, which includes Peoria and Galesburg.