CHICAGO (CBS) — While the weather has been dry for more than a day, flooding continued to be a big problem in the northern suburbs Friday morning, as river flood levels could break multiple records in Lake County.
Gov. Bruce Rauner was making his first tour of the flood damage in Lake County on Friday. The county has declared a state of emergency and issued a proclamation the flooding has created a disaster.
In Fox Lake, sandbagging has been the best line of defense as runoff from storms earlier in the week continued to swell the Fox River and the Chain O Lakes.
The mayor of Fox Lake has declared a state of emergency as the village braces for what could be the worst flooding in its more than 100-year history.
Sandbag stations have been set up, and people have been busy preparing ahead of the expected deluge.
While children made the best of it Thursday, trudging through normally dry areas that have been flooded, homeowners were busy trying to waterproof structures that soon could be surrounded by water.
For many homes in the area it’s already too late, and homeowners already are stressed to the max trying to protect their belongings from the floods.
“It sucks. It’s a lot of work. I work two full-time jobs. So doing this as well is just … I don’t have the time for it,” Fox Lake resident Sarah Spyra said.
The village administrator said dozens, if not hundreds of homes already have been affected by flooding, and those numbers are expected to grow before the floodwaters begin to recede this weekend.
“In 2013, we had a flood and the peak level of that flood was at 7.9 [feet] for the Chain. This one is estimated to be 8.2 [feet], which is the highest level that the Chain has ever seen,” Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin said.
The Fox River and nearby Des Plaines River were not expected to crest until sometime later this weekend.
The Des Plaines River already was at major flood stage on Friday, with the water at 19.86 feet near northwest suburban Des Plaines as of 5:45 a.m., nearly 5 feet above flood stage, and just shy of the 2013 record of 20.9 feet. According to National Weather Service charts, the river was expected to crest at 20.5 feet late Saturday night.
The flooding has forced a number of road closures on River Road, between Rand and Elk, and also between Miner and Algonquin.
Sandbags were in place Friday morning as homes and businesses braced for more flooding.
“It’s a travesty, but, you know, its where you call home. You can’t do, but prep the best that you can for it,” Dexter Coorsen said.
At a summer daycamp in Des Plaines, the picnic tables were underwater Friday morning. Camp directors said the whole site flooded in less than 24 hours after heavy rains began Tuesday night. They were hoping the buildings would be spared.
At the Des Plaines fire station, crews have sandbags and a rescue boat at the ready.
Residents in the city have been on edge since the flooding began on Wednesday.
“We had 20 inches in our basement that came up from the sewers, but the river didn’t come as far as they had projected it to come,” Patti Interrante said.
Meantime, the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe closed on Thursday and Friday due to flooding, after the Skokie River, which flows through the garden, swelled over its banks. Entry and exit roads, garden bridges, pathways, and parking lots all have flooded, although the water isn’t expected to have any long-term effect on the plants.
Other nearby suburbs also were facing record or potentially record-setting flooding.
The Des Plaines River already has risen above record flood levels near Lincolnshire, measuring at 16.53 feet as of 6:45 a.m. Friday, topping the previous record of 16.33 feet set in 2013. The river was expected to crest at about 17 feet on Saturday.
In Gurnee, the Des Plaines River was at 11.17 feet Friday morning, and expected to crest at 11.9 feet on Saturday or Sunday. That would match the flood record set in 1986 in Gurnee.