CHICAGO (CBS) — Days of anxiety are coming to a head, as people living along the Fox River are bracing for the water to crest.
Algonquin is known as the gem of the Fox River Valley, but the beauty that comes with sitting alongside the Fox River also comes with the threat of the occasional flood.
Now the village is faced with one of its worst-ever floods. That’s why volunteers and homeowners spent the weekend filling and placing sandbags around homes and businesses in the flood zone.
Gov. Bruce Rauner toured the area, declaring disaster areas in Cook, Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties. That clears the way for financial assistance from the state before and after the flooding along the river.
Already, some 7,000 Illinois homes and businesses have been damaged by flooding.
The state already has provided more than 500,000 sandbags in flood zones, and there are hundreds of thousands more available if needed.
“We are going to count on local officials to decide when to ask for an evacuation. We cannot force people to leave their homes. People are tough. If they’ve experienced a flood before, often they don’t want to leave, but we are making a strong request: if local officials have asked for evacuations, please honor their requests; please leave,” Rauner said Sunday in Algonquin.
So far, no evacuations have been ordered for any of the village’s more than 30,000 residents, but Village President John Schmitt said they are continuing to monitor conditions hour by hour.
Schmitt also thanked the many volunteers who have helped neighbors in need.
“We’ve had over 500 volunteers that have filled over 25,000 sandbags. We started putting the bags out, and staging them in areas along the river in the middle of the week so that the residents were able to put the bags up to protect their property, but we’re still going to see a lot of damage, and we’re still going to see a lot of trouble along the river,” Schmitt said.
The Fox River near Algonquin already has swelled to 12.3 feet, nearly three feet above flood stage (9.5 feet). According to the National Weather Service, the river is expected to crest at 12.5 feet Tuesday or Wednesday, before slowly receding. The river could remain above flood stage through early next week.
The Fox River begins in southeast Wisconsin, and flows some 200 miles before flowing into the Illinois River near Ottawa. Wisconsinites already have been dealing with record flooding, and all that water is moving downstream, making flooding worse in already water-logged areas of northern Illinois.
In Lake County, approximately 6,800 homes have been damaged by flooding along the Fox River, Des Plaines River, and Chain O’ Lakes. While the Fox River continued to rise on Monday, the Des Plaines River crested over the weekend, and has begun receding.