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Illinois Governor Ryan Discusses Seven-Mile Ice Block Jamming River

Aired February 28, 2001 - 1:53 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A huge block of ice is jamming up the Rock River in Illinois. How big it is it? Try seven miles long. It's sending water from the river onto the land, and that's caused about 200 people from three Illinois towns to get out of Dodge.

Ground zero is the town of Cleveland, which is about 140 miles west of Chicago. Right now, the water has blocked the only road out of there.

The Illinois Governor, George Ryan, who's been touring the state has just arrived back in Springfield -- is good enough to be on the telephone with us.

Governor, what do you see overhead?

GOV. GEORGE RYAN (R), ILLINOIS: Well, you're right: It's a big -- one big block of ice that's jammed up the river and has flooded all of the surrounding area. Cleveland has a population of 283 people. And we've already rescued about 80 of those people by boat. It's going to be very difficult to get anybody else out of there, unless it's by air. Because of the ice, it's going to be tough to go back in with a boat.

WATERS: Those folks, we understand, were ordered out of there, but we know for a fact that some people are refusing to budge. What if anything can be done about that?

RYAN: Well, not a whole lot. There's 10 people that have refused to leave. I talked earlier to -- by cell phone -- with a couple, an 80-year-old couple, that had been there for the duration and for many, many years. George and Betsy Luss (ph) is their name. And they refuse to come out. I begged them to come out, and they said, nope. It's been their home, they've been there for 50 years, and they're just going to stick it out.

So hopefully, the river will go down tonight -- that's the anticipation -- and these folks are going to be OK.

WATERS: You no doubt heard, governor, that some of those residents there in Cleveland are already blaming the Corps of Engineers. They say the Corps had not moved fast enough to free up the ice jams. Is there any blame here? RYAN: Well, I don't know how you free up a ice jam that's seven miles long. I'm not sure what the Corp of Engineers could do that at this point, and of course, I'm not an expert in that. But it's one big block of ice, and I don't know where -- if you dynamite it or blown it out or whatever you would do -- where that ice would go. So I think that they just can hope that maybe the water's going to go down -- and that's the theory, at least, for tonight.

WATERS: Well, let's hope so. Thanks for taking the time to help us with the story, governor.

RYAN: Thank you.

WATERS: Illinois Governor George Ryan.

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