SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- With urgent flooding along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, Gov. JB Pritzker activated about 200 Illinois National Guard Soldiers for state active duty to assist with the flood fight.

"As we face historic weather in this state, the safety of our communities will always be my top priority, and every relevant state agency is working in concert to protect communities," Pritzker said. "This morning (May 29), I activated the 200 members of the Illinois National Guard to regions along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to assist in sandbagging operations and levee monitoring and reinforcement, with another 200 on standby. We have deployed more than two million sandbags, hosted multi-agency resources centers in impacted communities, and I issued a disaster declaration impacting 34 counties. My administration will continue using every tool at our disposal to protect impacted Illinoisans."

Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 123 Field Artillery Regiment were notified of the activation May 29 and began reporting to their units in Milan, Galesburg and Springfield May 30. The Soldiers will help strengthen levees and construct protective barriers in flooded areas. The governor also activated a small team of Illinois National Guard planners to augment the Illinois Emergency Management Agency staff.

"The Illinois National Guard is a community-based organization, and when our communities need help, we answer the call. As they do to answer, they do when they deploy to fight their nation's wars, they are leaving families and jobs behind to help their fellow citizens," said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. "These Guardsmen will assist the residents of impacted areas and help protect the communities from further damage."

Alicia Tate-Nadeau, acting director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said she has been in contact with National Guard leaders throughout the state's flood response. "The National Guard is an important part of the overall state emergency response team. As a retired National Guard general, I'm well aware of the great capability that the Guard brings to the fight. They are professionals in both their state and federal military missions."

"The Illinois Department of Transportation takes great pride is assisting communities during natural disasters," said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. "By mobilizing the National Guard, the governor is helping to ensure residents get the relief they need during this critical time, and IDOT is ready to ensure that critical infrastructure is protected and safe for travel."