Monday may be worst day yet for flooding in northern suburbs

Monday may be worst day yet for flooding in northern suburbs

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LAKE COUNTY, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The Chain O' Lakes and Fox River flooding is one for the record books; it's expected to crest Monday just above the 8-foot mark set in 1960.

Bonnie Evanson who lives on the east side of the Grand Avenue bridge in Fox Lake, has lived in her house since 1945 and she never had to sandbag, not even in 1960. But this time, the rising tide caught her and she raced down to the village public works department to haul sandbags to her home with other family members.

"I didn't think it was going to come up so fast," she said. "I've been here my whole life and never had to sandbag," she said. "Luckily, I didn't finish my basement so I'm not going to have to tear out drywall," said Evanson.

Grand Avenue in downtown Fox Lake was flooding Sunday and had to be closed and most of Lakeland Plaza was under water. The Knollwood subdivision was probably one of the hardest hit areas and most people had either evacuated or threw up their hands. Access was only available by boat.

"They expect it to crest Monday early afternoon," said Nancy Schuerr, village administrator. "Then, it's going to go down very slowly," she said.

"We've had some people who asked us to come get them (in Knollwood) and we used a Humvee," she said. Schuerr said they talked to one resident who had duct-taped plastic bags around his legs and was riding a bicycle through the floodwaters to see how deep it was. "He asked if we think he should get his family out and we said it's plenty deep enough, it's time to get out," she said.

"Some of the residents have stayed because they only got water in their garage. (The house had been raised with a flow-through crawl space), but we had another person who needed shelter so we referred him to Red Cross," she said.

Back at Evanson's house, just about all of her 16 acres were under water and small mud ducks called coots were swimming about with some geese. "We always just made it, but not this time," she said. "Now it's just water from here all the way to Chain O' Lakes Marine and Fox Lake Harbor," she said, noting that the harbor's owners lived across the channel from her and the water came too fast for them and they now have water in the house for the first time.

Anette Wolf, the village's emergency management director, said they have just over 300 homes affected by the flooding. "We filled 30,000 sand bags as of today," she said Sunday, adding that Thelen Sand and Gravel near Antioch donated sand and contractors in town went and got it using their own trucks.

"The workers are tired. We've had a lot of volunteers," she said. Fire Chief Ron Hoehne said the airport crash truck that can go through about any depth of water and was used by the governor of Illinois to tour the flooded area in 1987, was readied for use in case there was a fire they had to respond to in the flood zone. It is equipped with pumps so they could put out a fire.

"Some of these areas our engines can't get into," he said. Kent McKenzie, the county disaster agency director, said the water levels were just an inch under the 8 foot record set in 1960 and it was not going to crest until Monday afternoon.

Of the Fox Lake area damage, he said, "It's just overwhelming."

The Des Plaines River has crested, but there are still roadways covered in water. In Gurnee, Grand Avenue between Routes 41 and 21 is closed and is expected to stay that way Monday and Route 41 from Route 21 to Delany Road is expected to be closed, but the southbound lanes may open up. Gurnee officials are telling people to leave their sandbags in place until later this week just in case another storm develops.

In Libertyville, Oak Spring Road is closed west from St. Mary's Road due to water on the roadway and the Rawson Bridge Road just west of Wauconda in McHenry County is closed due to water on the pavement. Rumors that the Libertyville Estates levy was in trouble were false and it has worked the way it is supposed to, said officials. In Lincolnshire a berm protecting a neighborhood of over 300 homes burst and those people were evacuated last week.

Scheurr said the number of volunteers that came out, including the young men and women from the police and fire department's explorer groups and Cub Scouts and others, was just incredible.

"We just want to tell those people, ‘Thank you very much. We truly appreciated your help," she said.

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