Illinois officials are encouraging residents to participate next week in a first-ever national day of preparedness for tornadoes and floods.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency will be the leader April 30 on the federal government's event called "America's PrepareAthon."

Emergency management officials will conduct a tornado drill for 120 employees at its five-story Springfield workplace. The building was damaged when tornadoes struck the capital city in March 2006.

Nearly five million people are already registered to participate in the national day of action which, in other parts of the country, will highlight hazards from wildfires and hurricanes. Officials plan to hold such action days twice a year.

The fall edition on Sept. 30 will focus on earthquakes, hazardous materials, pandemic flu and severe winter weather.

P.J. Harrigan

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