St. Clair County emergency responders ready to receive patients from hurricane zone

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. – The feds have put emergency responders in St. Clair County on standby. They’re to be prepared for the possible arrival of hospital patients from areas devastated by Hurricane Florence.

While the storm dumps buckets of rain on the Carolinas, the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency is on standby for the arrival of hospital patients or individuals who need long-term care. The community has been designated as the primary go-to place if needed.

According to EMA Director Herb Simmons, one reason the county was elected was due to the presence of Mid-America Airport.

“It’s a prime location,” he said. “The runway is big enough to take care of the planes that would have to come in, so it’s an ideal site.”

The plan to be ready for hurricane victims has been tried and tested.

“We’ve done a few full-scale exercises where we trained on this,” said Bryan Whitaker, the Assistant EMA Director. “There’s been tabletop exercises. We’ve also had a full activation with Hurricane Katrina.”

More than 50 members of Missouri’s Task Force One are in place in the Carolinas awaiting their assignment.

“What we would expect to be doing is water rescues and-or water evacuation, anticipating major floods upwards of 20 or more inches of rain,” said Gale Blomenkamp, a Task Force One spokesman.

On Monday morning, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod swings into action. They will load a big semi-truck at Lowes with $100,000 worth of supplies for flood victims. The church’s special ministry works in a ravaged community for years. They did so after Hurricane Katrina.

“The Lutherans worked to rebuild most of East New Orleans,” said Pam Nielsen, a church spokeswoman. “The mayor says to this day, if not for the Lutherans, my town would not exist.”