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Emergency Management Professor Provides Expertise for IL Tornado Outbreak; EM Program Considering Field Deployment

November 18, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- The National Weather Service's predictions for a severe weather outbreak in Illinois Sunday came to fruition. As many residents in the state are aware, several counties were affected by what Western Illinois University Emergency Management Assistant Professor Jack Rozdilsky and others are dubbing the punishing weather as "the November 17 Tornado Outbreak."

"Local and state emergency management authorities are now working on the immediate response activities, including search and rescue, treatment of the injured and providing temporary sheltering for those displaced by Sunday's severe weather," Rozdilsky said. "In central Illinois, the Tazewell County town of Washington appears to be especially hard hit, with early indications of one casualty, 80 injuries and up to 500 structures damaged."

Earlier today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made a state disaster declaration for seven counties (Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford). According to media outlets, six people died as the result of the Nov. 17 Tornado Outbreak. The news of the natural disasters, and of the emergency response and recovery now taking place, kept Rozdilsky busy Monday, as media outlets from across the state have contacted him for his expertise.

"As of Monday, we do not know the full scope of the damage. This is day one out from the disaster, and preliminary damage assessments are taking place," he said. "Later this week, when the scope of the damage becomes clear, the response will transition to recovery. These early recovery activities include restoration of basic services, debris removal and preliminary damage assessment."

Rozdilsky and his colleagues are considering taking WIU emergency management students to the field not only to learn, but also to provide help.

"The WIU Emergency Management Program Faculty and the WIU Emergency Management Student Organization, the WIU IESMA (Illinois Emergency Services Management Association) student chapter are now considering how we may be of assistance. Later this week, some of us may deploy to the field to provide appropriate volunteer assistance to stricken communities. At this early stage in the disaster, information is being gathered on how we best may help," he explained. "For those from the wider WIU community interested in helping, as we determine the full scope of the disaster, it is likely that during the next few days voluntary and faith-based organizations will be providing more specific information to how to help out in tornado-stricken central Illinois communities. Remember, the monetary donations to legitimate humanitarian organizations assist not only in the short-term response, but also, those non-government organizations that help provide funds for the longer-term recovery are useful, as well."

For more information, contact Rozdilsky at (309) 298-1621 or via email at Learn more about WIU's emergency management bachelor's degree program—one of only 15 of its type in the U.S.— at

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Relations