A total of 23 Illinois counties are under state disaster status due to flooding. Gov. Bruce Rauner added 11 to that list Tuesday.
Rauner returned early from a holiday trip to Spain and Morocco to tour flooded areas of Illinois. He continued Tuesday with a visit to Watseka, about 100 miles south of Chicago near the Indiana border, in Iroquois County -- one of the counties that's just received the disaster designation.
Rauner says that does two things.
"One, it frees up state resources so we can bring state personnel and equipment and supplies to help the first responders and volunteers everywhere," he said.
It's also the initial step in requesting federal disaster relief.
"We are going to try to get the federal government to reimburse losses as a result of this flood," Rauner said.
But it's no guarantee; the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied some of Illinois' requests in the past, for example, after tornadoes.
Higher damage costs could increase the state's chances. Affected homeowners are asked to submit their financial information to county officials.
The new additions are Cass, Cumberland, Iroquois, Lawrence, Marion, Menard, Moultrie, Pike, Richland, Sangamon and Vermilion counties.
Last week, Alexander, Calhoun, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Morgan, Randolph and St. Clair counties received the designation.
"The good news is the water has receded now in central Illinois," Rauner said Tuesday morning. "Bad news is, it's still very high in southern Illinois. My primary concern right now is Alexander County; the levees on the Mississippi River, have been breached in five different places. The water's been flowing in pretty aggressively. We've gone door to door, asking people to evacuate."
The governor also reminded residents to not drive on a road where water is moving, a situation that has proven deadly. He says it can take as little as six inches of moving water to push a car off the road. He says that's especially dangerous given cold, and icy water temperatures.