CHICAGO (CBS) — Two days after major flooding began in Lake County, Gov. Bruce Rauner toured the region Friday and made a state disaster declaration for Lake and two other counties, McHenry and Kane.
“These counties were hit with flash and river flooding caused by more than seven inches of rain over a couple of days,” Governor Rauner said in a news release. “This proclamation will ensure that we continue to provide whatever assistance is needed now and in the coming days as they begin recovery efforts.”
Rauner and Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director James Joseph toured flood damage in Gurnee, where the Des Plaines River is still rising.
“Rally together to help each other, and your first responders are awesome,” Rauner told Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik at Warren Township High School.
Rauner, Joseph, and Kovarik also toured a sand-bagged home. At least 100 homes and businesses in Gurnee have been damaged by floods.
“This is devastating and heart-breaking,” Kovarik said.
Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor said he expects 5,800 structures will be impacted by flooding before the water begins to recede sometime Saturday or Sunday.
“We expect most of our major waterways, we expect them to hit record levels,” he said.
Rauner spoke with a man whose home was surrounded with sandbags.
“How can 100-years flood be happening every 15 years?” Rauner said.
The governor had a warning for people living in flooded areas in the northern suburbs.
“We may be calling for evacuations in certain neighborhoods in certain communities as the floodwaters continue to rise,” he said. “Nobody wants to leave their home, and we can only request; please, if your local officials call for you to evacuate your home, please honor the request.”
The extensive flooding in the northern suburbs is expected to be worse than the 2013 floods, which set several records along the Fox River and Des Plaines River.
The Des Plaines River near Lincolnshire already broke a record for flooding on Thursday, reaching 16.53 feet – or more than four feet above flood stage of 12.5 feet, according to the National Weather Service. With water from heavy rains in Wisconsin still flowing downstream the river wasn’t expected to crest until Saturday or Sunday, at an expected peak of about 17 feet.
The Des Plaines River near Gurnee was expected to match or beat the 1986 record for flooding this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. As of Friday morning, the river was at 11.29 feet and rising, expected to crest at about 11.9 feet, or nearly 5 feet above the flood stage of 7 feet.
The Fox River also was expected to reach record flood levels. As of Friday morning, it was at 11.19 feet near Algonquin, and expected to crest at 13 feet by Tuesday. The record was 12.7 feet in April 2013.
Flood warnings are in effect on both rivers in multiple locations in Lake, Cook, and McHenry counties until as late as Wednesday night, depending on the location. In some instances, flood warnings are in effect until further notice.
Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin said the Chain O’ Lakes also could reach record levels, possibly cresting at 8.2 feet this weekend, topping the 2013 record of 7.9 feet.